Here are two interesting stories about climate change and technology that I stumbled on today. The first story is about a new way to compare modern ocean temperatures to those from 150 years ago. This can be done thanks to the scientists who run an ocean sensing project called Argo which is a massive array of sensing equipment deployed across the world’s oceans. The scientists over at the Argo project went back through the logs of the HMS Challenger which sailed around the globe from 1872 – 1876. Along the way the crew of the Challenger took frequent water temperature recordings and soundings from the bottom of the ocean. It seems that we now have enough data from the Argo project to compare ocean temperatures today to those taken 150 years ago. And what do ya know? The ocean is warmer today, by a little more than half a degree Celsius on average (interestingly, the Atlantic seems to be warmer than the Pacific; the Atlantic is about 1 degree warmer compared to only 0.4 degrees warmer in the larger and deeper Pacific). So what does this mean? Well, water has a higher specific heat (ability to hold warmth) than the atmosphere does by 1000 times! This means that the oceans absorb 80-90% of the heat related to global warming. Knowing how much the oceans have warmed over time is critical to understanding how fast climate change is occurring.
The second story that caught my eye today was about some scientists who are working on building artificial trees that can suck CO2 directly out of the air. They can do this in different ways, by filtering out CO2 particles and storing them in containers, or by installing transparent containers full of algae on the sides of buildings. As the algae photosynthesize, they remove CO2 from the air and release oxygen. The excess carbon captured by these trees could then be sequestered, or stored underground. Best of all, this technology is probably only 10-20 years away. Of course, all of these projects carry with them risks and high costs to implement, but the question is how do those costs compare to the risk we take by doing nothing to address climate change?