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Prehistoric Sea Temperature

January 24, 2017

Measurements of ocean temperatures from the last interglacial period suggest today’s climate models may be too conservative.



Fast-warming oceans. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In between ice ages, oceans warm up. But today’s warming is happening much faster than it did during the previous ice age. Science Museum of Virginia climatologist Jeremy Hoffman and his colleagues report in the journal Science that during the last interglacial period, it took about four thousand years for oceans to warm up as much as they now have in just about a hundred.

JEREMY HOFFMAN (Science Museum of Virginia):

So to understand just the simple difference in the time: how quickly this stuff is happening now versus how it happened before, really identifies the unique role that humans are now playing in the climate system.


The authors derived the prehistoric temperatures by analyzing several chemical thermometers from dozens of ocean sediment core samples. The results suggest that current projections of ocean warming rates could be too low, and we may see more rapid sea level rise and other climate change effects sooner than predicted. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.