Oceans warming at a rate of 5 Hiroshima nuclear blasts every second

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The oceans are experiencing nuclear blasts every second (Corbis via Getty Images)

The oceans are experiencing nuclear blasts every second (Corbis via Getty Images)

Oceans around the world are heating up at a rate equivalent to four nuclear bomb blasts every single second.

As climate change came to the fore in 2019, a team of international scientists ran the numbers to find the increase in temperature in the world’s waters. They determined that Earth’s oceans were 0.075 degrees Celsius warmer than the average temperature from 1981-2010.

That doesn’t seem like much, but considering the gigantic volume of water on Earth, it equates to 228 sextillion (a trillion billion) Joules’ worth of heat.

Unsurprisingly, that’s a hard number to wrap your head around. So one of the scientists worked it out and put it in simpler terms: by comparing it to the atomic bomb that the USA dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.

‘The Hiroshima atom-bomb exploded with an energy of about 63,000,000,000,000 Joules,’ said study author Lijing Cheng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

‘The amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions,’ she said.

Which, if you work it out, adds up to four Hiroshima nukes detonating in the water every second for the last 25 years.

The ocean absorbs most of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions, leading to rising ocean temperatures. (Photo: Jiang Zhu)

The ocean absorbs most of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions, leading to rising ocean temperatures. (Photo: Jiang Zhu)

In 2019, it got even worse. The rate of heat last year was ‘about 5 Hiroshima bombs of heat, every second, day and night, 365 days a year,’ John Abraham, an engineering professor specializing in thermal sciences at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and co-author of the study, told Vice.

The readings that make up the data were taken from a network of more than 3,800 buoys spread out across the planet.

‘Global warming is real, and it’s getting worse,’ Abraham said.

An aerial photograph of Hiroshima, Japan, shortly after the

An aerial photograph of Hiroshima, Japan, shortly after the “Little Boy” atomic bomb was dropped in 1945 (Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images)

‘And this is just the tip of the iceberg for what is to come. Fortunately, we can do something about it: We can use energy more wisely and we can diversify our energy sources. We have the power to reduce this problem.’

Since 1970, more than 90% of global warming heat went into the ocean, while less than 4% of the heat warmed the atmosphere and land where humans live.

The rising temperature of the oceans is causing the polar ice caps to melt and sea levels to rise.

According to recent data, sea levels have been rising by an average of 5mm a year in the past five years, compared to 3.2mm a year on average since 1993, with much of the rise coming from glaciers and ice sheets that are melting ever more quickly.

The Greenland ice sheet has witnessed a considerable acceleration in ice loss since the turn of the millennium, while the amount of ice being lost annually from Antarctica in the last decade has increased by at least six fold compared the 1980s.

Arctic sea ice has seen record low coverage in winter between 2015 and 2018, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

VINCENNES BAY, ANTARTICA - JANUARY 11: Giant tabular icebergs are surrounded by ice floe drift in Vincennes Bay on January 11, 2008 in the Australian Antarctic Territory. Australia's CSIRO's atmospheric research unit has found the world is warming faster than predicted by the United Nations' top climate change body, with harmful emissions exceeding worst-case estimates. (Photo by Torsten Blackwood - Pool/Getty Images)

The polar ice caps are melting as a result of the increased temperatures from climate change (Torsten Blackwood – Pool/Getty Images)

According to the researchers, humans can work to reverse their effect on the climate, but the ocean will take longer to respond than atmospheric and land environments.

‘The price we pay is the reduction of ocean-dissolved oxygen, the harmed marine lives, strengthening storms and reduced fisheries and ocean-related economies,’ said Cheng

‘However, the more we reduce greenhouse gasses, the less the ocean will warm. Reduce, reuse and recycle and transferring to a clean energy society are still the major way forward.’

Next, the researchers are examining how warming impacts oceans beyond temperature. They plan to study how water temperatures affect the water’s buoyancy, which directly affects the distribution of nutrients and heat.



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