A rise in sea levels isn't the only impact global warming is having on the world's oceans. A growing body of evidence suggests that climate change is also affecting ocean currents and the chemistry of the seas, with potentially catastrophic results.
This week, NOW travels deep into the oceans with scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) with help from other researchers for a first hand look at this stunning sea change, and what we can do about it.
"We've been aware of global warming for several decades now. We haven't taken any substantive action, and we're now what many scientists would call at tipping points," Ruth Curry, an ocean scientist at the WHOI.
In a simple experiment, using ice cubes, a beaker of water, and a hot plate, Curry shows NOW's David Brancaccio how ice acts as a heat buffer in the oceans. When the ice melts, the buffer collapses, and may cause a rapid rise in ocean temperatures, with unpredictable results.
Some ocean scientists believe that if action isn't taken quickly to address climate change, our oceans could face their biggest shock in 100 million years.
The world's oceans face a global-warming catastrophe. President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to act quickly to fight climate change but can his Administration make a difference?