By Kamakshi Ayyar
January 11, 2019

The planet’s oceans are warming a lot quicker than estimated, highlighting the perils of unchecked climate change, according to a new study.

New data published by the journal Science on Thursday, indicates that ocean temperatures have consistently risen since the 1950s and are rising 40% faster than calculated by scientists in a 2014 U.N. report. According to Lijing Cheng, one of the study’s authors, temperatures down to 2,000 meters rose about 0.1 degree Celsius (0.18F) between 1971-2010, according to Reuters. The fallout could include rising sea levels, destruction of corals, severe weather systems and a decrease in ice sheets and glaciers. According to the study, sea levels could rise by 30cm by the year 2100.

The earth’s oceans have absorbed more than 90% of heat caused by greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere, according to the New York Times, making them a vital regulator for the planet’s thermostat. However, their role was relatively unnoticed because of insufficient and imprecise data. The new study analyzed earlier published information and data compiled by Argo, an international system of nearly 4,000 floats that measures temperature and saline levels in the upper parts of the world’s oceans.

The study is the latest in a number of warnings from the scientific community, urging people to change their ways and address global warming. In October 2018, a report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that the planet has only until 2030 to avoid devastating climate change effects. Governments are becoming more aware of their responsibilities, with almost 200 nations pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Write to Kamakshi Ayyar at kamakshi.ayyar@time.com.

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