What’s Happening in the Ocean, and Why It Matters to You and Me

Katharine Hayhoe in Scientific American:

Over the last five decades, we’ve burned enough coal, gas and oil, cut down enough trees, and produced enough other emissions to trap some six billion Hiroshima bombs’ worth of heat inside the climate system. Shockingly, though, only 1 percent of that heat has ended up in the atmosphere.

As extreme as the “global weirding” we’re experiencing today is—people broiling under weeks of heat waves, wildfire smoke turning the skies orange, crops withering in prolonged drought, intense downpours inundating homes—most of it results from only a small fraction of all the heat that’s been building up in the climate system. Instead, the majority of that estimated 380 zettajoules of heat, nearly 90 percent of it, is going into the ocean. There, it’s setting ocean heat records year after year and driving increasingly severe marine heat waves. The ocean also absorbs about 30 percent of the carbon humans produce, adding up to almost 200 billion tons since the industrial revolution.

More here.