The world's oceans are warming as much as 100 times faster than at any time during the past 800,000 years.
The graph's upper bound was raised 25 percent in order to plot the rise in the amount of energy stored in the oceans, an event triggered by increasing amounts of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions.
It's not the first time the agency was forced to revise the size of its graphs. NOAA has amended charts three other times, including once for sea level rise, since they began posting them in 2008.
According to research published by NOAA scientists in 2012, the spike in ocean heat content from 1955 to 2012 was around 24 x 10^22 Joules: That's 2,400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Joules. For perspective, if that amount of heat were transferred to the lower six miles of the atmosphere, temperatures would rise about 36 degrees Celsius (65 Fahrenheit).
The importance of the updated NOAA data, however, is less in the fact that the agency had to adjust its charts. Instead, say scientists, the new high temperature illustrates the dramatic warming of the oceans, which is frequently overlooked, with much greater attention being paid to atmospheric temperature increase.
Oceans can absorb about 1,000 times more heat than the atmosphere. At least 90 percent of extra heat trapped by human-generated greenhouse gases can be found in the world's oceans.