A study by UNSW Sydney and CSIRO researchers presents a relatively new ocean temperature measurement program called the Argo system of profile floats that can assist scientists in figuring out which climate models people should be paying attention to for the twenty-first century.

Rise in sea levels
(Photo : Getty Images)

Looking at Old Models

According to Professor John Church of UNSW's Climate Change Research Centre in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, the study published in Nature Climate Change aims to narrow the projected range of future ocean temperature rises to the end of the twenty-first century by using model simulations that are most consistent with the Argo's findings in the years 2005 to 2019.

Prof. Church claims that "the models that anticipated very high ocean absorption by 2100 also exhibit unreasonably high ocean absorption throughout the Argo period of observation."

"Similarly, there are future scenarios with reduced heat absorption that do not match to the Argo data. So we've utilized the Argo observations to say, 'Which of these models agrees best with the data and so constrains future projections?'"

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Argo

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(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
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The Argo floats are equipped with high-tech equipment that detects ocean temperatures to depths of up to 2000 meters and is named after the boat on which Greek legendary hero Jason sailed in quest of the golden fleece.

Each Argo float transmits data to satellites, which relay the information to analysis centers across the world. There are more than 3500 floats scattered across the world, with the majority of them controlled by the United States (more than 2000) and Australia (with 317 floats) coming in second.

According to Prof. Church, the Argo floats provide a new degree of temperature measuring precision. As a result, not only are the high-tech equipment more dependable than in the past, but the coverage of the world's seas has increased dramatically.

"Previously, we relied on research ships to make extremely precise measurements, but only in very limited locations. Alternatively, we may have commercial ships drop disposable instruments into the sea, providing better coverage but being less precise.

"Because these areas were less frequented, there were significantly bigger gaps in the Southern Ocean using these techniques."

Complete Story

According to the team's study of the Argo data, land and air temperatures only convey half of the story of the planet's overall heat absorption. According to Prof. Church, the apparent stability of temperatures in the early twenty-first century did not match Argo's measurements of sea temperatures over the same period.

It turns out that specific models in a recent batch of modeling in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project's forecasts of rising air and sea temperatures are warming too quickly.

Reliability

Clouds Over Body of Water
(Photo : Photo by Sensei Minimal on Unsplash)

According to Prof. Church, the Argo data has provided scientists with far more reliable statistics to work with when generating climate forecasts. In contrast, the likely range of local forecasts based on Argo data is 17% narrower than the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report.

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