Changing Planet

Studies Focus on Warming of Oceans

Oceans absorb carbon dioxide and 90 percent of the heat caused by human activity—making their warming a critical topic for climate research. Two new studies—one on the upper oceans and one on deeper ocean depths—share findings about climate change’s effect on these water bodies.

The first study, in the journal Nature Climate Change, provides the first estimate of global warming’s effect on upper-ocean depths between 1970 and 2004.

“This underestimation is a result of poor sampling prior to the last decade and limitations of the analysis methods that conservatively estimated temperature changes in data-sparse regions,” said lead author and oceanographer Paul Durack. “By using satellite data, along with a large suite of climate model simulations, our results suggest that global ocean warming has been underestimated by 24% to 58%. The conclusion that warming has been underestimated agrees with previous studies, however it’s the first time that scientists have tried to estimate how much heat we’ve missed.”

Researchers used temperature measurements for the upper 2,300 feet of the oceans, satellite measurements of sea level and computer models to find the rate of sea-level rise, which they compared to the rise measured by satellites for each hemisphere.

The second study, by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, examined satellite and direct ocean temperature data from 2005 to 2013. It found that depths deeper than 1.24 miles have not warmed measurably.

“The deep parts of the ocean are harder to measure,” said the study’s lead author William Llovel. “The combination of satellite and direct temperature data gives us a glimpse of how much sea level rise is due to deep warming. The answer is—not much.”

The study also found that expansion of warming waters caused a third of the planet’s 2.8 millimeters of annual sea-level rise. Eventually, more accurate measurements of the deep ocean may be on their way through floating probes, collectively known as Deep Argo, which will sample ocean temperatures down to 19,700 feet.

Court Rulings Leave EPA Rules Untouched

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court left intact a federal appeals court decision that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had adequate scientific evidence to tighten standards, drafted under former President George W. Bush, for ozone pollution.

The case came to the Supreme Court after an appeals court rejected arguments by industry groups that the rules were too stringent. By declining to hear the case, the justices left the standards in place.

Another challenge by Nebraska’s attorney general to proposed EPA regulations setting carbon limits for new power plants was dismissed by U.S. District Judge John Gerrard. The lawsuit had claimed that the “impossible standards imposed by the EPA will ensure no new power plants are built in Nebraska.”

“As the EPA points out, the State of Nebraska’s attempt to short-circuit the administrative rulemaking process runs contrary to basic, well-understood administrative law,” Judge John Gerrard wrote in his ruling. “Simply stated, the state cannot sue in federal court to challenge a rule that the EPA has not yet actually made.”

Decreases in Energy Costs

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts U.S. households will spend less from October to March on heating bills due to warmer winter temperatures.

“U.S. households in all regions of the country can expect to pay lower heating bills this winter, because temperatures are forecast to be warmer than last winter and that means less demand for heat,” said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski. Specifically, the EIA expects a decline of 15 percent in the cost of home heating oil, roughly 5 percent in the cost of natural gas and 2 percent in the cost of electricity. A decrease in the cost of natural gas and electricity is another contributing factor to the cost drop for households, according to the EIA.

new study by the International Monetary Fund expands on how a boom in natural gas production—specifically related to shale gas—has helped to lower the cost of gas and energy prices for Americans. Since 2000, shale gas production has grown from 1 percent of total U.S. natural gas production to nearly 50 percent.

That increase has had global implications.

“So far, energy users in the United States have been the main beneficiaries of the energy prices declines that have resulted from the U.S. shale revolution,” said co-author Rabah Arezki. “However, that revolution has helped to stabilize international energy prices, including by freeing global energy supply for European and Asian markets, thus offsetting some of the shortages attributable to geopolitical disruptions. The shale gas boom has caused ripple effects to other energy sources around the globe, displacing coal from the United States to Europe, lowering energy costs and imposing a ‘significant impact on the geography of global energy trade.’”

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Tim Profeta is the founding director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. The Nicholas Institute is part of Duke University and focuses on improving environmental policy making worldwide through objective, fact-based research in the areas of climate change, the economics of limiting carbon pollution, oceans governance and coastal management, emerging environmental markets and freshwater concerns at home and abroad. In his role at the Nicholas Institute, Profeta has continued to use his experience on Capitol Hill to engage in climate change debates. His research has focused, specifically, on market-based approaches to environmental regulations—particularly energy and climate change policy. Other projects engage his expertise in environmental law and air pollution regulation under the Clean Air Act.
  • JackWolf

    So, if I make a comment here about fossil fuels, is some little man get out his little notebook and keep track?
    http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2014/10/08/report-police-sharing-intelligence-on-activists-with-gas-industry/#more-29489

  • Name

    “This underestimation is a result of poor sampling prior to the last decade and limitations of the analysis methods that conservatively estimated temperature changes”
    So we were wrong before.

    “Researchers used temperature measurements for the upper 2,300 feet of the oceans, satellite measurements of sea level and computer models”
    This time our models are right, even though there is no model proven correct yet.

    “The second study,…, examined satellite and direct ocean temperature data from 2005 to 2013. It found that depths deeper than 1.24 miles have not warmed measurably.”
    But when we just look at the data itself here we find nothing.

    “which will sample ocean temperatures down to 19,700 feet.”
    We must go deeper, then no one can argue with our data cause no one else will be able to get data from down that far. Muuhhhaaahaaa.

  • Al

    Don’t know how you can deny Global Warming

  • Name

    That’s right just keep removing any dissenting opinion so you can keep that consensus going.

  • infideli

    So, warming hiatus. Where did the heat go? We think it’s in the ocean, not sure where. We found it! It’s deep in the ocean moving in deep currents! Sorry, NASA says” no way” .Oh! Now we found it again! It’s right on the surface! How could we have missed that? Now we know. All our projections have been based on estimates, and we underestimated the surface temps! !! But now all our original predictions have been born out as true! ! Global warming is upon us! ! This is urgent! !Send billions now before we all perish! !!!!!!!!

  • Bruce Devitt

    Everyone is missing the most obvious cause, that being our misguided and out of date storm sewer systems, in which we do not allow the rainwater that would have soaked into the Earth to do so. Our world (man’s works) must take into account the way the earth operates and not the other way around.

  • Bruce Devitt

    Everyone is missing the most obvious cause , that being our misguided and out of date Storm Sewer Systems , in whitch we do not allow the rainwater that would have soaked into the Earth to do so. Our World (man’s works) must take into account the way the Earth operates , and not the other way around.

  • bob burrage

    They had no change in surface temp so they go deeper and get the current temp and compare it to data they never had. They post no data at all in the report and change the terminology from temp to energy. So we now have global ocean energy absorption increasing at a faster rate than what we never were able to measure before. Take their word fo it because we have no data to prove it.so they use computer generated models that they provide the input data I stead of just actual data. What another pile of garbage in an attempt to explain why the climate models were wrong

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