17 January 2016
Depending on how you interpret the data, the warming of the air may have slowed somewhat (This is very unlikely though) for a few years in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, but the planet as a whole is still warming steadily. We know this, because the oceans hold almost all the heat, and they are continuing to warm. The graph below is proof, and you might want to study the end of that data plot.
That graph was made possible because of the Jason Satellites, that measure the heat content of the oceans, and the rate they are rising. The second one (Jason 2) is about to be replaced (with Jason 3), and the launch is Sunday morning in California. A lot of researchers will be sweating it out, as that booster pushes Jason 3 into a polar orbit at 1042 AM PST.
Here’s another image made possible by Jason. It shows the monster El Nino in the Pacific. The warm water in the Eastern Pacific has expanded the ocean, and pushed up sea level. This image shows El Nino better than just a map of water temperatures at the surface, because the level of the ocean depends on the water temperature beneath it. The temperature of the ocean, and the depth of the warm water are all a factor that’s included in this image.
One last thing: Notice from the Jason data, that the global sea level is rising at 3.3 mm/year, but in some places the ocean dynamics and sinking land are causing it to rise much faster. Dr. Brian McNoldy at the Univ. of Miami has found that Miami is one of these places. If you live in South Florida, you really should read what Brian wrote. I talked with Brian last week in New Orleans, and he told me that it’s likely the slowdown of the Gulf stream to blame. Here in Maryland (and along the Chesapeake), it’s that, and sinking land.
NOAA has a fascinating website you can use to see how the rate of rise looks in your area. Look at the charts below, and you can see that the rise rate near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (about 100 miles to my south here in Maryland) is double the global average.
Click on the image below to see more data:
Lastly, you’ve not heard about this launch tomorrow, because I have found no major news outlet that has covered it. So, below is a screenshot of the CNN website with my suggestions in red, where the story could appear instead. Kidding aside, I do think it will get some coverage tomorrow, from at least the NY Times and the BBC.