Tiny shells hint at hidden ocean warming
Pacific waters are heating up 15 times faster than in earlier eras
Calcium and magnesium in the shells of single-celled, bottom-dwelling creatures have given scientists evidence that the middle depths of the Pacific Ocean warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than they did in the previous 10,000 years during natural warming cycles.
Reporting the result October 31 in Science, researchers argue that the faster warming of the water could indicate that the oceans are absorbing some of the excess heat humans have created through industrial processes, which have contributed to global climate change.
The heat absorption of the oceans could explain the recent decrease in the rate of global warming in Earth’s atmosphere, which the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted in its September 2013 report. The oceans will not be able to absorb excess heat forever, the authors of the new study caution.