NASAs improved global climate computer model, which simulates and projects how the Earths climate may change, indicates that the oceans have been absorbing heat since 1951 and will continue to absorb more heat from the atmosphere over the next 50 years. This increasing ocean heat storage suggests that global surface temperatures may warm less than previous studies projected, while the ocean acts as a bigger heat sponge. Further, such additional ocean heating would likely change regional climate patterns.
GLOBAL SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES
This is an image of global sea surface temperatures taken from Japan National Space Development Agencys (NASDA) AMSR-E instrument aboard NASAs Aqua spacecraft on August 27, 2003. The colors in this false-color map represent temperatures of the oceans surface waters, ranging from a low of -2°C (28°F) in the darkest green areas to a high of 35°C (95°F) in the brightest yellow-white regions. Sea ice is shown as white and land is dark gray. CREDIT: NASDA/NASA
Shan Sun and James Hansen, both of NASAs Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, used NASAs Global Climate Model (GCM), one of the worlds leading computer climate models that simulate past and potential future climate changes. The GCM has been enhanced with new "ocean models" that better simulate how oceans currently absorb heat and will respond to a warming global climate. The study appears in the latest issue of the American Meteorological Societys Journal of Climate.
One of the leading reports on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report of 2001, suggests that between the years 1990 and 2100 the worlds average temperature will rise between 0.6 and 2.5 degrees Celsius (C) or 1.1 and 4.5 Fahrenheit (F). "The enhanced GCM shows that the average global temperature would rise between 0.4 and 1.2 C (between 0.7 and 2.2 F) through the year 2050, for plausible increases of greenhouse gases," Sun said.
Rob Gutro | GSFC
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