SOE Engineer Magazine_Spring 2021

ABRAHAM’S RESEARCH MAKES GLOBAL IMPACT Professor John Abraham’s ongoing research on climate monitoring is making a global impact. It was announced in January that a 2020 paper he co- authored about record-setting ocean warmth was among the most mentioned of over 3.4 million articles published in scholarly journals last year. The paper, published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, ranked at No. 23 on The Altmetric Top 100. Altmetric’s annual list places a score on the publications that have most captured the public’s attention based on the number of online mentions. In analyzing Altmetric data, a UK-based website called Carbon Brief – which covers the latest developments in climate science, climate policy and energy policy – recognized that Abraham’s paper was the second-highest scoring climate change related paper most talked about in the media in 2020. Climate change is clearly a hot topic. According to Abraham’s latest research, each of the last nine decades has been warmer than the prior decade. “We can expect studies like ours to become routine as global warming continues,” said Abraham.

Cool for the Environment Why are the oceans so important? Because “more than 90% of global warming heat ends up in the oceans,” said Abraham. “When we think about ‘global warming,’ we really mean ‘ocean warming.’ And warmer oceans supercharge the weather, creating more powerful storms and continued sea level rise.”

Ocean heat is the best single indicator of whether the planet is warming or not, according to the study. In 2020, the upper 2,000 meters of the world’s oceans measured the highest temperatures since 1955. The oceans absorbed 20 zettajoules last year compared to 1 zettajoule of energy in 2019. This heat is equivalent to 630 billion hair blow-driers running day and night, every day for an entire year. Using fewer hair driers is not exactly the answer, but our energy use is part of the solution, said Abraham. “We can do things individually, like buy more efficient vehicles or make our houses more efficient. We can also do things collectively, like develop national and international agreements to cut back on pollution,” he said. “The fortunate thing is, we can stop global warming. And we can do it with today’s technology,” he said. “I am confident about clean energy. We know how to use energy more wisely, we are smart enough not to waste, and we are smart enough to buy more energy from wind and solar power. The costs have dropped so much that now you can buy electricity from the sun that is cheaper than dirty coal. Using clean energy can save our planet and money, at the same time.”

Ocean heating, by decade

300 250 200 150 100 50 0 -50 -100 -150 -200

1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020

1940s 1950s

St. Thomas Engineer 2021 Page 15

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