The Pacific Ocean is warming at a faster rate than it has in the previous 10,000 years, suggesting more difficulties in countering the effects of global warming, according to a new study published Friday in the journal Science.
The study, “Pacific Ocean Heat Content During the Past 10,000 Years,” reconstructs Pacific Ocean temperatures in the last 100 centuries by measuring the chemistry of ancient marine life to recreate the climates in which they lived.
In 2003, researchers went to Indonesia to collect cores of sediment from the seas where water from the Pacific flows into the Indian Ocean. They compared the levels of magnesium to calcium in the shells of Hyalinea balthica, a one-celled organism buried in those sediments, in order to estimate the temperature of the middle-depth waters where the organism lived, about 1,500 to 3,000 feet below sea level.
The measurements of middle-depth temperatures in this region are representative of the larger western Pacific, the researchers said, since the waters around Indonesia originate from the mid-depths of the North and South Pacific.
Based on these findings, researchers concluded that the middle depths have warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than they did during natural warming cycles in the previous 10,000 years.