Press-Republican

Columns

April 1, 2012

Oceans seeing effects of rising temperatures

"Water, water, everywhere, and all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink."

This short excerpt from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's long poem "The Rime of The Ancient Mariner" evokes an image of the oceans that play such a central role in our planet's weather and climate systems. Just consider the fact that they cover 70 percent of the Earth's surface, with an average depth of about two miles.

After many decades of researching the oceans, scientists are slowly gaining an understanding of this role. Wally Broecker, professor of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University, developed the concept of ocean circulation called the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt. His book, with the same title, makes for a fascinating read.

He demonstrated that there is a planet-wide circulation of water in the oceans that transports heat. The surface waters warm in the Pacific and continue on the surface to the North Atlantic. Giving up heat, as the water moves north, the surface waters cool and become dense; the cold water then descends to the depths.

This cold, barely above freezing water slowly moves south and east to the North Pacific again, where it slowly warms, rises and starts the whole process over.

This enormous, moving stream of water plays a key role in transporting and storing heat energy. This includes absorbing the extra energy arising from the increased levels of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, which is the primary GHG and comes from the consumption of fossil fuels.

We all know how much longer a large pot of water takes to heat up than a small one. The same is true for the oceans. What is happening now is that this huge stream of water is beginning to warm, just a little.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • ken_wibecan.jpg Another day in the life

    Each morning I rise from bed, slowly, as is my habit, and sit quietly on the bed contemplating the day that looms before me, writes columnist Ken Wibecan.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR small talk mug 081714 Corner store is no more

    Columnist Gordie Little offers a reminder of the little grocery stores of days gone by.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR skin deep mug 081714 High-end products worth the splurge

    Regardless of the price, writes columnist Felicia Krieg, she would buy the core group of her makeup products over and over again.

    August 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • paul_grasso.jpg Tax code needs overhaul

    Corporations may be criticized for exploiting loopholes, but it is the complex tax system that is at fault, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Ideas about soil health changing

    New techniques like no-til and cover crops can make soil healthier than conventional tillage, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Economy may have changed forever

    The Great Recession has reordered the workforce in a way that makes it unlikely it will ever be the same, according to columnist Colin Read.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg The dark side of fun funerals

    Something strange happened in American culture in the past decade or two: People started planning fun funerals, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR fit bits mug Developing power key to success

    While strength is important, the ability to generate power is required for many basic activities in life, writes columnist Ted Santaniello.

    August 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • PPR you had to ask mug 081014 Time to reel in youth sports parents

    Do not scream at a child that he's a loser, at least not in a language he understands, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    August 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Treating corporations like people

    Problems arise in many areas when businesses take on the attributes of individuals as mandated by the court, according to columnist Colin Read.

    August 10, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns

Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice
Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk
Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time