According to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland, the oceans were in the process of cooling for about 1,800 years, before human caused climate change started to reverse that trend.
The researchers looked at 57 previously published studies on ocean water temperature, as well as models of surface temperatures to come to their conclusions. They found that the Earth is currently warming about 20 times faster than it was cooling for those 1,800 years. The study shows just how extensive climate change has been, and just how quickly it’s happened.
The oceans are able to retain a great deal of heat, which normally would help to mitigate climate change over short times, or at smaller scales than current changes. The problem is that humans have had such a huge impact on the Earth’s climate that the oceans simply can’t keep up. As a result of taking in so much CO2, the oceans are becoming acidic, and warmer, and they aren’t capable of doing much more to hold back climate change. And most projections and models don’t see this problem getting better in the future, at least not without serious action by humans very quickly.
However, on the bright side, this study might help us to deal with those future changes. The more we know about how the oceans have changed due to global warming, the better we will be able to predict future changes. Knowing what we can expect form warmer and more acidic oceans can help us adapt to those situations and, hopefully, find ways to help conserve species that will have to deal with those problems more directly than humans. More data also means better predictions about how much the climate will change, and what we need to do in order to slow down or even reverse some of those changes. Know what the oceans can put up with can help us figure out how to limit emissions and make a change.