According to a new study, the key to most accurately measuring global warming is actually by studying the ocean.
The study, authored by researchers from all over the world, was published in AGU’s EOS journal and details an efficient and accurate way of measuring global warming by focusing on sea levels and ocean heat.
Understanding climate change has a lot to do in part with calculating the Earth’s Energy Imbalance, or EEI.
The EEI helps determine how fast the Earth is heating up or storing heat. The measurement calculates the difference between incoming solar radiation and outgoing longwave thermal radiation. The EEI has drastically increased over the years, and this imbalance is directly caused by anthropogenic activities.
Instead of using the mean global surface temperature to measure how quickly the Earth is storing heat, the new research shows the oceans provide a more accurate representation.
Why? Because more than 90% of the extra heat caused by trapped greenhouse gasses ends up in the oceans. This extra buildup is causing ocean warming and sea levels to rise.
According to the study, sea level rise and changes in ocean heat content should be the primary measurements of global warming. Advancements made in ocean monitoring technology can now calculate current conditions and also accurately reconstruct the historical ocean temperature.
The past few years have been the warmest on record, and according to the latest estimates, the top ten warmest years for the ocean all occurred after 2006.
The ocean heat content has increased by 30.4×1022 Joules since 1960. To put this in perspective, the increase in ocean heat content since 1992 is nearly 2000 times total the net generation of electricity by the U.S. utility companies in 2015.