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Global WarmingScience

EPA's "Climate Change Indicators in the US" report: News from the Oceans

Next in our coverage of the EPA’s new Climate Change Indicators in the US report, below are key summary findings regarding the oceans.

From very concerning increases in ocean acidity to a relatively fast-rising sea level to a heating ocean, all of our concerns are not in the atmosphere or on land.

The following text comes directly from the US EPA’s “Summary of Key Findings” [PDF]:

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Oceans

Ocean Heat. Several studies have shown that the amount of heat stored in the ocean has increased substantially since the 1950s. Ocean heat content not only determines sea surface temperature, but it also affects sea level and currents. Sea Surface Temperature. The surface temperature of the world’s oceans increased over the 20th century. Even with some year-to-year variation, the overall increase is statistically significant, and sea surface temperatures have been higher during the past three decades than at any other time since large-scale measurement began in the late 1800s.

Sea Surface Temperature. The surface temperature of the world’s oceans increased over the 20th century. Even with some year-to-year variation, the overall increase is statistically significant, and sea surface temperatures have been higher during the past three decades than at any other time since large-scale measurement began in the late 1800s.

Ocean Acidity. The ocean has become more acidic over the past 20 years, and studies suggest that the ocean is substantially more acidic now than it was a few centuries ago. Rising acidity is associated with increased levels of carbon dioxide dissolved in the water. Changes in acidity can affect sensitive organisms such as corals.

Sea Level. When averaged over all the world’s oceans, sea level has increased at a rate of roughly six-tenths of an inch per decade since 1870. The rate of increase has accelerated in recent years to more than an inch per decade. Changes in sea level relative to the height of the land vary widely because the land itself moves. Along the U.S. coastline, sea level has risen the most relative to the land along the Mid-Atlantic coast and parts of the Gulf Coast. Sea level has decreased relative to the land in parts of Alaska and the Northwest.

For more detailed information on our oceans in regards to these critical issues, visit the EPA’s Oceans PDF.

For info on snow and ice, weather and climate or greenhouse gases, visit our other posts in this series.

Image Credit: maistora via flickr/CC license
Graph Credits: EPA’s Oceans PDF




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