Taking the Oceans’ Temperature, Scientists Find Unexpected Heat

Climate change is rapidly warming the world’s oceans, killing off aquatic organisms — like coral reefs and kelp forests — that anchor entire ecosystems. The warmer waters also cause sea levels to rise and make extreme weather events like hurricanes more destructive.

If scientists can more accurately measure the speed at which oceans are warming, they can better predict the future effects of climate change. And a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature suggests that oceans are warming far faster than the estimates laid out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global organization for climate data.

The study, led by Laure Resplandy, a biogeochemical oceanographer at Princeton University, found that between 1991 and 2016 the oceans warmed an average of 60 percent more per year than the panel’s official estimates.