The world’s oceans have been soaking up far more excess heat in recent decades than scientists realized, suggesting that Earth could be set to warm even faster than predicted in the years ahead, according to new research published Wednesday.
Over the past quarter century, the Earth’s oceans have retained 60 per cent more heat each year than scientists previously had thought, said Laure Resplandy, a geoscientist at Princeton University who led the startling study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The difference represents an enormous amount of additional energy, originating from the sun and trapped by the Earth’s atmosphere – more than 8 times the world’s energy consumption, year after year.
In the scientific realm, the new findings help to resolve long-running doubts about the rate of the warming of the oceans prior to the year 2007, when reliable measurements from devices called “Argo floats” were put to use worldwide. Before that, different types of temperature records – and an overall lack of them — contributed to murkiness about how quickly the oceans were heating up.
The higher-than-expected amount of heat in the oceans means more heat is being retained within the Earth’s climate system each year, rather than escaping into space. In essence, more heat in the oceans signals that global warming itself is more advanced than scientists thought.
Seagrass plants have an excellent capacity for taking up and storing carbon in the oxygen-depleted seabed, where it decomposes much slower than on land. This oxygen-free sediment traps the carbon in the dead plant material which may then remain buried for hundreds of years.
They say the early bird catches the worm. For native songbirds in suburban backyards, however, finding enough food to feed a family is often impossible.A newly released survey of Carolina chickadee populations in the Washington, D.C., metro area shows that even a relatively small proportion of nonnative plants can make a habitat unsustainable for native bird species. The study, published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to examine the three-way interaction between plants, arthropods that eat those plants, and insectivorous birds that rely on caterpillars, spiders and other arthropods as food during the breeding season. Based on data collected in the backyards of citizen-scientist homeowners, the researchers arrived at an explicit threshold: In areas made up of less than 70 percent native plant biomass, Carolina chickadees will not produce enough young to sustain their populations. At 70 percent or higher, the birds can thrive.
Oil spills are messy and harmful to local ecosystems—just ask anyone on the Louisiana coast. So far, there’s no foolproof way to clean them up, and some methods—like burning the oil—can result in even more pollution. Now, researchers have come up with a potential solution: reusable, oil-wicking sponges made of wood that can absorb more than 40 times their weight in oil.