New research conducted by Yair Rosenthal, a professor of marine and coastal sciences in the Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Braddock Linsley of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; and Delia W. Oppo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts published in the Oct. 31, 2013, issue of the journal Science indicates that the Earth’s oceans have absorbed heat and mitigated some of the consequences of climate change for the last 60 years.
The scientists claim that the Earth’s oceans are absorbing heat at a rate that is 15 times greater in the last 60 years than the rate of heat absorption has been in the last 10,000 years.
The research was the first to be based on physical evidence and the first to look at ocean temperature patterns earlier than the middle of the twentieth century.
The researchers examined the magnesium to calcium ratio in a species of protozoa (foraminifera) called Hyalinea balthica that forms a shell. The sediments in the waters between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean surrounding Indonesia provided samples in the form of sediment cores that dated as far back as 10,000 years ago. The warmer the water gets the higher the magnesium to calcium ratio is in the shell of the protozoa. The shell is normally created from calcium carbonate but high temperatures limit the availability of calcium carbonate.
The ability of the Earth’s oceans to absorb more heat than was previously known has mitigated some of the consequences of climate change to land based life at the expense of ocean life. The researchers claim the Earth’s oceans have reached the limits of heat absorption and the consequences of climate change to both land and ocean life will accelerate rapidly in the next few decades.
The waters that are presently warming had been getting colder for the last 10,000 years due to current flow at depths ranging from 1400 to 3300 feet below the surface of the oceans.