A new study made the shocking revelation that oceans are being heated up by global warming at the rate equivalent to one atomic bomb explosion per second for the past 150 years.
More than 90% of the heat trapped by humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions has been absorbed by the seas, with just a few percent heating the air, land and ice caps respectively.
The vast amount of energy being added to the oceans is responsible for sea-level rise and hurricanes and typhoons which become more intense.
A team of international researchers reconstructed ocean warming from 1871 to the present and found that the world’s oceans have warmed roughly 1,000 times more than the annual global energy consumption by humans, according to a press release.
Because heating has accelerated with rising emissions, the equivalent heat being absorbed by the world’s oceans is three to six bombs per second today, depending on the time frame used.
Laure Zanna, lead author of the study and a physics professor at Britain’s University of Oxford, told weather.com her team does not like to use the metaphor of an atomic bomb to explain the amount of heat absorbed by the ocean’s over the past 150 years.
“I do not think that these are relevant to explain our work,” Zanna said. “However, our team has estimated that the amount of energy is roughly 1,000 times annual worldwide human primary energy consumption.”
With carbon emissions rising in recent decades, up 60 percent since 1990, the warming oceans can be compared to the effects of three atomic bombs, like the ones that decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, per second since that year.
As researchers have reported in recent years, the world’s oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the carbon emissions caused by oil and gas drilling, agriculture, and other human activity.
While the change in ocean circulation has been conclusively identified, the researchers say they cannot yet pin it solely on human-induced causes. Solving this mystery is a goal for future studies, the researchers said.