When you hear the term “global warming,” do you think of the warming of air temperatures at the Earth’s surface, or the warming of the planet as a whole? Only about 2 percent of the planet’s overall warming heats the atmosphere, so if we focus only on surface air temperatures, we miss 98 percent of the overall warming of the globe. About 90 percent of the warming of the planet is absorbed in heating the oceans. However, until the past few years, our measurements of ocean temperatures (especially of the deep oceans) were somewhat lacking. Our measurements of surface air temperatures were much more accurate, and so when people spoke of “global warming,” they tended to focus on air temperatures.
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