Researchers behind a study claiming that the oceans are warming faster than initially thought have admitted to making mistakes, submitting corrections shortly after publication.
The study published in the journal Nature claimed that scientists have seriously underestimated how much heat trapped by greenhouse gases are being absorbed by oceans across the world. In fact, the study claimed that oceans absorb 60 percent more heat than previously assumed.
This had serious implications. If it were true, the study meant that human activities have been emitting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, causing more heat and potentially making it more challenging to reverse the negative effects of climate change.
Ocean Warming Study Researchers Retract
"Unfortunately, we made mistakes here," admitted Ralph Keeling, a climate change scientist and one of the authors of the study. "I think the main lesson is that you work as fast as you can to fix mistakes when you find them."
The study published Nov. 1 looked at measurements of atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide from 1991 to 2016. They used the data to come out with an estimate of how much heat the ocean absorbs over the past 25 years.
The conclusion of the study revealed that oceans are retaining more heat from the atmosphere each year.
Since publication, however, the researchers were made aware of a few corrections, particularly one relating to the incorrect treatment of systematic errors in the measurements of oxygen. The researchers assured that they continue to prepare author corrections to be submitted to the journal.
The original press release from The Scripps Institution of Oceanography was edited to have a different title and include a note explaining the problems that the researchers encountered since publication.
Despite the error, the findings of the study are still accurate when it claimed that the ocean is soaking up more heat. Previous studies have arrived at similar results.
The United Nations also issued a report in October, claiming that the world only has until 2030 to reverse global warming and avoid experiencing some of its most serious effects, including extreme drought, frequent flooding, food shortages, etc.
Nature has issued a statement regarding the error, saying that they are reviewing the issue.
"We take all concerns related to papers we have published very seriously and will issue an update once further information is available," the publication said to the press.