Scientists from the Princeton University and the University of California-San Diego have owned-up to major mathematical errors in their recent study claiming that the Earth's oceans were warming much quicker than previously thought.
The study was published earlier this month in journal Nature. It claimed that oceans across the world had absorbed up 60 per cent more heat between 1991 and 2016 than previously thought.
The study suggested that global warming was at an even more advanced stage than previously believed, and that the most ambitious carbon emission goals agreed under the Paris Agreement would need to be slashed again by an additional 25 per cent to prevent disaster.
The story received extensive coverage in the mainstream media and grabbed the attention of scientific community around the world.
However, the conclusion came under scrutiny after Nicholas Lewis, a mathematician and independent climate science researcher based in the UK, raised doubts about the findings, highlighting that there were some 'serious errors' in the research.
"After correction, the... results do not suggest a larger increase in ocean heat content than previously thought," Lewis claimed on the blog of Judith Curry, another well-known critic.
"Because of the wide dissemination of the paper's results, it is extremely important that these errors are acknowledged by the authors without delay and then corrected," he added.
The authors of the paper have now accepted errors in the study, and added that their new calculations suggest a larger range of probability regarding the amount of heat absorbed by oceans.
"We quickly realised that our calculations incorrectly treated systematic errors in the O2 measurements as if they were random errors in the error propagation," said co-author Ralph Keeling. "We really muffed the error margins," he told the San Diego Tribune.
Keeling has thanked Lewis for pointing out the mistake in the study.
According to Keeling, they have re-done the data and found the ocean is still likely warmer than the IPCC estimates.
However, they have taken bigger error margins this time, which suggest a larger range of probability (between 10 per cent and 70 per cent) regarding increase in the amount of heat absorbed by oceans, than initially thought.
Scientists have submitted a correction for the study to the journal Nature.
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