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Oceans heating up faster than expected, set record in 2018 | News

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The world’s oceans are heating up at an accelerating pace and faster than previously estimated, setting a new temperature record in 2018 as global warming threatens a diverse range of marine life, scientists have warned.

New measurements, aided by an international network of 3,900 floats deployed in the oceans since 2000, showed more warming since 1971 than calculated by the latest UN assessment of climate change in 2013, the researchers said.

The findings published on Thursday in the US journal Science, led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, debunk previous reports that suggested a so-called pause in global warming in recent years.

“Global warming is here, and has major consequences already. There is no doubt, none!” the authors wrote in a statement.

Man-made greenhouse gas emissions are warming the atmosphere, according to the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, and a large part of the heat gets absorbed by the oceans. That in turn is forcing fish to flee to cooler waters.

“Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought,” said co-author Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley.






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About 93 percent of excess heat – trapped around the Earth by greenhouse gases that come from the burning of fossil fuels – accumulates in the world’s oceans.

The latest report relied on four studies, published between 2014 and 2017, that gave more precise estimates of past trends in ocean heat, allowing scientists to update past research and hone predictions for the future.

A key factor in the more accurate numbers is an ocean monitoring fleet called Argo, which includes nearly 4,000 floating robots that “drift throughout the world’s oceans, every few days diving to a depth of 2,000 metres  and measuring the ocean’s temperature, pH, salinity and other bits of information as they rise back up”, said the report.

Argo “has provided consistent and widespread data on ocean heat content since the mid-2000s”, it said.

Record temperature

The new analysis shows warming in the oceans is on pace with measurements of rising air temperature.

And if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gases, “models predict that the temperature of the top 2,000 metres of the world’s oceans will rise 0.78 degrees Celsius by the end of the century”, it said.

The thermal expansion – water swelling as it warms – would raise sea level 30 centimeters, above any sea level rise from melting glaciers and ice sheets.

“While 2018 will be the fourth warmest year on record on the surface, it will most certainly be the warmest year on record in the oceans, as was 2017 and 2016 before that,” Hausfather said.

“The global warming signal is a lot easier to detect if it is changing in the oceans than on the surface.”






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Lead author Lijing Cheng, of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said records for ocean warming had been broken almost yearly since 2000.

Overall, temperatures in the ocean down to 2,000 metres rose about 0.1 degree Celsius from 1971-2010, he told Reuters news agency. The 2013 UN. assessment estimated slower rates of heat uptake but did not give a single comparable number.

Almost 200 nations plan to phase out fossil fuels this century under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit warming. US President Donald Trump, who wants to promote US fossil fuels, plans to pull out of the pact in 2020.

A separate study on Monday, by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, said 2018 was the fourth warmest year for global surface temperatures in records dating back to the 19th century.

Ocean temperatures are less influenced by year-to-year variations in the weather. It can take more than 1,000 years for deep ocean temperatures to adjust to changes at the surface.

Among effects, extra warmth can reduce oxygen in the oceans and damages coral reefs that are nurseries for fish, the scientists said.

Warmer seas release more moisture that can stoke more powerful storms.

Warmer ocean water also raises sea levels by melting ice, including around the edges of Antarctica and Greenland.

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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