Global oceanic warming?

  1. Based upon the retreat of glaciers worldwide, and opening of the Arctic ocean, and Greenland's hastened dissolution, global atmospheric warming would seem to be with us. But has there been any global oceanic warming? None yet definitively detectable by thermal expansion of the oceans (i.e. proxy of sea surface rise). The specific heat of water is much greater (4x) than that of the atmosphere. And heat capacity is just specific heat x volume. So has the total enthalpy (heat) of coupled oceanic-atmospheric system changed significantly, in a fractional sense? The enormous heat capacity of the oceans would seem to serve as a buffer for increased heating of the planet. If one assumed an extreme scenario of tropical waters to 200 meters for most of planet, what would be the consequences? Has the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, about 55 million years ago, already conducted such extreme experiment?


    An experiment of nature on the effect of intense global warming has already occurred in the Eocene 38-55 million yrs. ago; the so-called Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).(1) There were no massive extinctions comparative to that of Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) period defining Mezozoic/Cenazocic eras at 65Myrs. At the Paleocene-Eocene divide, paleo-stratigraphic results show that there was deep water benthic foraminifera mass extinction associated with the increased temperature and hence dysoxic (less oxygenated) waters.(1) But most marine and terrestrial extinctions occurred with cooling at the end of the Eocene, and into the Oligocene epoch.(1) The consequences of the present warming are unknown in regards to extinctions. However nature already has conducted one experiment in regards to intense global warming, with seemingly not overwhelming catastrophic results.

    1. Hallam Tony, Catastrophes and Lesser Calamities Oxford Univ Press, 2004, and references therein.

    Other sources consulted.

    2. Raup David M., Extinction: Bad Genes or bad Luck?, W.W. Norton, 1991, and references therein.
    3. Stanley Steven M., Extinction, Scientific American Books, 1987, and references therein.
  2. jcsd
  3. Thermal expansion of the oceans has been observed, and is a significant contributor to global sea level rise. The link that you provide

    says this:

    It is very likely that 20th century warming has contributed significantly to the observed sea-level rise, through thermal expansion of sea water and widespread loss of land ice
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