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Warmer oceans storing climate change dangers

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  • mtneuman@juno.com
    Warmer oceans storing climate change dangers · Sea temperature rise will intensify global warming · Marine life may be badly hit, warns Lovelock David Adam,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 6, 2006
      Warmer oceans storing climate change dangers

      � Sea temperature rise will intensify global warming
      � Marine life may be badly hit, warns Lovelock
      David Adam, environment correspondent

      Wednesday November 29, 2006

      Global warming is creating a climate time bomb by storing enormous
      amounts of heat in the waters of the north Atlantic, UK scientists have

      Marine researchers at Southampton and Plymouth universities have found
      that the upper 1,500 metres of the ocean from western Europe to the
      eastern US have warmed by 0.015C in seven years. The capacity of the
      oceans to store heat means that a water temperature rise of that size is
      enough to warm the atmosphere above by almost 9C.

      Neil Wells, a scientist on the project at the National Oceanographic
      Centre in Southampton, said: "People might think it doesn't sound like a
      big temperature rise but it's very significant." The findings were
      announced in the journal Geophysical Research Letters as James Lovelock,
      the UK scientist who developed the gaia theory of life on Earth, warned
      that such ocean warming could stifle marine life and accelerate climate

      Professor Lovelock said that thermal mixing of water and nutrients shuts
      down when the upper layer of ocean water reaches about 12C. "That's why
      the tropical waters are clear blue and the water in the Arctic looks like
      soup," he said. Such a change would affect marine life, which research
      suggests could help form clouds over the oceans. Warmer waters would
      receive less protection from sunlight, which would warm them further.

      The Southampton and Plymouth study suggests heat stored in the oceans
      could be released into the atmosphere in future, tempering efforts to
      stabilise global temperatures with cuts in manmade greenhouse gas

      The scientists used 200 floats spread across more than 9m square miles of
      the north Atlantic in 1999 to measure the water's temperature profile
      accurately for the first time. The floats, part of a worldwide network
      called Argo, sink to about 2,000 metres and return to the surface every
      10 days to transmit their data.

      Dr Wells said the floats revealed that Atlantic waters closer to the
      surface between the UK and the US had warmed much more than the average
      0.015C figure.

      Speaking before a lecture to the Institution of Chemical Engineers, Prof
      Lovelock repeated the prediction, made in his recent book The Revenge of
      Gaia, that global warming will kill billions of people this century. He
      said the Earth was undergoing a rapid transition that could boost
      temperatures by 8C, making large parts of the surface uninhabitable and
      food production impossible. A hotter planet might be able to support less
      than a tenth of its 6bn population.

      "We are not all doomed," he said. "An awful lot of people will die, but I
      don't see the species dying out."

      Scientists say global warming, due to unrestricted carbon emissions from
      burning fossil fuels, could boost average temperatures by up to 6C by the
      end of the century, causing famine and violent storms. But they also say
      that action now to cut greenhouse emissions could stop atmospheric
      concentrations of carbon dioxide reaching 450 parts per million -
      equivalent to a temperature rise of 2C from pre-industrial levels. But
      Prof Lovelock said temperature rises of up to 8C were built in. "Trying
      to take the job on of regulating the Earth is as crazy as you can get,"
      he said. "We have to adapt."
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