Global warming has been a cause of worry for a while now and is believed to be the reason behind the recent cracking in the Antarctic ice shelf, which has led to a rise in ocean levels.

A new study now confirms that the Earth's oceans may be heating up at a much faster rate than what environmental scientists previously believed.

The study was performed by a team of researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), where they observed the change in oceanic temperatures since 1960. The study was led by Lijing Cheng.

How Was The Research Conducted?

Latest technological developments helped scientists in performing this study. Previous studies of such kinds were mainly dependent on ships traveling to different parts of the ocean and taking temperature samples from those areas. However, this method only allowed the study to be done in those areas alone where ship travel was viable.

However, from 2000 onward, scientists began using specialized floats dubbed Argo, to record the varying temperatures of the ocean at different locations. The Argo devices can measure temperatures to about 6,562 feet from the ocean's surface.

By 2005, these devices had allowed scientists to map the global temperature of almost all the oceans. However, the main difficulty lay in comparing the recent statistics with data from the 1960s onward, as there was limited information available from that time.

Scientists, however, used statistical analysis to solve this issue. They recorded the data from the floats in a single area at first to mimic the lack of technology available in the 20th century. With this, they created a global map of the oceanic temperature of the time, which they said matched the scarce original temperature recordings from that era.

What Did The Results Show?

The results of the study reflected that the ocean temperature had warmed up by 337 zettajoules between 1960 and 2005. It also confirmed that the change in temperature was relatively small till 1980, when ocean waters started getting warmer rapidly. Then since 1990, this heat is being transferred deeper under the water surface.

"This work is an example of how advances in technology have enabled an improved understanding of past changes in the ocean, where variability has always been a bit of an enigma due to its vastness and depth," said John Fasullo, NCAR scientist and co-author of the research.

He also stated that this research was not only a study of the oceanic temperature changes in the past, but may also provide valuable insight into how temperatures may change in the future.

The study has been published in the journal Science Advances.

Photo: Erik Holfelder | Flickr

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