In the last half-century, as the Earth continued to warm, the oceans absorbed 90% of the heat. That remaining 10% melted sea and land ice and warmed our land.
New research has found this missing energy in the deep oceans. The findings rise from a model (ORAS4) tested against and based on temperature and salinity data from 1958-2009, at least a dozen different data types, and all over the worlds oceans. This is massive undertaking and represents our best estimates of changes in the ocean’s heat, i.e. thermal energy, over the last half century.
The figure above outlines clearly where the heat is going—the deep oceans. The deepest oceans (purple line) have risen in heat capacity much greater than the oceans at 300 meters and less. Indeed, this discrepancy in energy uptake by different ocean depths appears to have started in the beginning of this century.
To give you some perspective the deep oceans in 2008 took near 20*1022 Joules (2*1015 Gigajoules). The average person in the U.S. uses about 301 Gigajoules of energy. So in 2008, the deep oceans took in the equivalent energy of that produced by 6,644,518,300,000 people (>6.6 trillion people). The current population of the world is just over 7 billion. Take a moment to let that settle in. Go ahead I’ll wait.