Everything's Getting Hotter

Discovered in Green: The world will get warmer by 2050, the Earth's coldest waters have been disappearing for decades, the ice sheet collapsed because of warm water and the potential of algae biofuels. 

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  • The Earth's going to get warmer in the next 38 years. Not too surprising, really. But, to get exact, science thinks somewhere in the 1.4 to 3 degree Celsius range, according to computer simulations, which base the predictions on climate change patterns over the last 50 years. (Americans, remember: Celsius degrees are bigger than our Fahrenheit ones.) Some skeptics might point to the uncertainty of a project like this. But the researchers explain why their 10,000 simulations should be trusted. "It's only by running such a large number of simulations -- with model versions deliberately chosen to display a range of behaviour -- that you can get a handle on the uncertainty present in a complex system such as our climate," explains researcher Dr Dan Rowlands. And, if our planet passes the two degree threshold, things might get messy. [University of Oxford]

  • The ocean's coldest waters are disappearing. Have been for decades. And, fast, too. "Because of its high density, Antarctic Bottom Water fills most of the deep ocean basins around the world, but we found that the amount of this water has been decreasing at a surprisingly fast rate over the last few decades," explains researcher Sarah Purkey. "In every oceanographic survey repeated around the Southern Ocean since about the 1980s, Antarctic Bottom Water has been shrinking at a similar mean rate, giving us confidence that this surprisingly large contraction is robust," she continues. The oceans make up a lot of our planet, and this deep part of the ocean helps regulate our climate. So one can imagine how a big, rapid change like this could maybe possibly be a scary thing. (See: below.) [NOAA]

  • The ice sheet collapsed because of too warm water. Well actually it was a mega-flood. But, 14,650-14,310 years ago rising temperatures during what science calls Bølling warming, caused enough ice to melt that the sea-level got so high that an entire ice sheet collapsed. Our sea-levels our rising and our waters are warming, so, again, scary. But, there's a tiny bit of encouragement buried within. "Our work gives a window onto an extreme event in which deglaciation coincided with a dramatic and rapid rise in global sea levels -- an ancient 'mega flood'. Sea level rose more than ten times more quickly than it is rising now!" explains researcher Dr Alex Thomas. We're not there. Yet. [University of Oxford]

  • The potential of algae biofuel. After all this world is getting too hot, depressing stuff, we get a little good news from science. Researchers have started drafted a project to figure out which algea species would work best for producing bio-fuel. "Getting the data is now the easy part. What we're doing in the DAC is enabling researchers to move beyond informatics issues of assembly and analysis to regain their focus on the biological implications of their research," explains researcher Robert Settlage. Yes, that is about three steps removed from a real discovery. But, it's a start. A start which we hope works out. Good, luck! [Nature Communications]