Scientists Find Major Mistake in Water Temperature Readings – Study
Global warming might be far worse than we thought, according to a new study.
The research challenges the ways that researchers have worked out sea temperatures until now, meaning that they may be increasing quicker than previously suggested.
The methodology widely used to understand sea temperatures in the scientific community may be based on a mistake, the new study suggests, and so our understanding of climate change might be fundamentally flawed.
The new research suggests that the oceans hundreds of millions of years ago were much cooler than we thought. If true, that means that the global warming we are currently undergoing is unparallelled within the last 100 million years, and far worse than we had previously calculated.
Until now, scientists believed that the temperature of the ocean depths and the surface of the polar ocean 100 million years ago were about 15 degrees warmer than they are today. But they might in fact have stayed relatively stable – making the warming we’re currently undergoing far more alarming.
The researchers believe that scientists have been overlooking crucial processes when they calculated the temperature of the seas millions of years ago. In so doing, they may have been mistakenly thinking that they were warmer than they actually are.
Until now, scientists have calculated the temperature of the ancient seas by looking at foraminifera, the fossils of tiny marine organisms found in the sediment on the ocean floor. Those form small shells and take on more or less of an oxygen isotope depending on how warm the water is, so by looking at the oxygen content they can estimate the temperature when those fossils were around.
That working led scientists to believe that the temperature of the seas had fallen by 15 degrees over the last 100 million years.
BP and Shell planning for catastrophic 5°C global warming
Oil giants Shell and BP are planning for global temperatures to rise as much as 5°C by the middle of the century. The level is more than double the upper limit committed to by most countries in the world under the Paris Climate Agreement, which both companies publicly support.
The discrepancy demonstrates that the companies are keeping shareholders in the dark about the risks posed to their businesses by climate change, according to two new reports published by investment campaign group Share Action. Many climate scientists say that a temperature rise of 5°C would be catastrophic for the planet.
ShareAction claims that the companies’ actions put the value of millions of people’s pensions at risk. Two years after BP and Shell shareholders voted resoundingly in favour of forcing the companies to make detailed disclosures about climate risks, the companies have made unconvincing steps forward, according to the reports.
Neither company sets targets to reduce emissions and BP’s total investment in renewable and clean technologies has actually shrunk since 2005, the reports said. That’s despite the company’s public-facing image of being “beyond petroleum”.
Both companies assess the resilience of their businesses against climate models in which temperatures warm by between 3°C and 5°C.