Almost every vehicle has a cooling system. Whether it uses a internal combustion engine or an electric motor, it creates heat while in operation and that heat must be managed to keep the machinery working properly. If it is not, the radiator may boil over or the battery could catch fire. Either way, the consequences may be catastrophic. The world’s oceans are the cooling system for the Earth. In fact, they absorb up to 95% of the excess heat in the atmosphere. And if the oceans overheat, the consequences for humanity will be dire indeed.
It is easy to install a temperature gauge in a vehicle’s cooling system to warn if the coolant is getting too hot. Measuring the temperature of the oceans is much more difficult. Surface temperatures are relatively simple to monitor but determining the temperature of the deepest parts of the ocean has been almost impossible up until now. In truth, we know more about the moon, Mars, and the rings of Saturn than we do about the deepest parts of the oceans, where the water can be several miles deep.
In 1951, Rachel Carson published The Sea Around Us, a beautifully written book about the oceans that explained in plain language everything we knew about them at the time. I read it over the past summer and learned much that I didn’t know about the ocean. In truth, even though people have stood on the moon since then, our knowledge of the deep oceans has advanced hardly at all since Carson’s book was published.