Strongest warning yet on global warming: Scripps Institute of Oceanography plays key role in report

SAN DIEGO - Global warming is happening and humans are responsible. That's according to a U.N. report making international headlines. 

The Scripps Institute of Oceanography played a key role in those findings.

Kai Hally-Rosendahl is working on his PhD in physical oceanography at UC San Diego and he knows all about global warming.

"I think climate change is definitely happening," he said. "The data are certainly conclusive."

New findings compiled in a 2,000-page report by more than 800 scientists around the world – including three from Scripps – confirm that the earth is warming.

"And that's an unequivocal statement," said Scripps physical oceanographer Lynn Talley. "We know that from all of our observations, 50-year trends."

Researchers say it is all man-made and could be catastrophic. They say the global average temperatures could rise by up to 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit and sea levels could rise 10 to 32 inches by the end of the century. That would be enough to flood parts of San Diego.

But Scripps researchers say evidence currently shows that the trade winds are stronger and that is keeping sea levels consistent for now.   

"Basically, the warm water has piled up in the far western Pacific," said Scripps physical oceanographer Dean Roemmich.

The last report came out six years ago and this time, there is far more data thanks to Agro buoys housed at Scripps. More than 3,000 are scattered around the oceans measuring sea temperatures, salinity and the velocity of the upper oceans.

Another finding is that 90 percent of the heat being put out by CO2 is being absorbed by the oceans.

"For the tenth of a degree change in water temperature out there, if it weren't in the ocean, it would be 100 degrees on land," said Talley.

The warming oceans will affect marine life, and San Diego may get less rain.

Kai agrees with the data and says we cannot just shake it off, saying, "Make sure everyone knows that we only get one shot here and we need to make changes immediately, or we're going to lose this beautiful earth that we have."

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