Saturday, February 4

Oceans Warmer Than Ever Before: Report

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Last year was the warmest ever for the world’s oceans, according to a new study by scientists from 16 institutes around the world. It actually was the fourth year in a row to set records for high ocean temperatures.

To make matters worse, the speed at which oceans are getting warmer is faster and faster, raising concerns about more powerful storms in the near future, as well as melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica and rising sea levels around the world.

The new study was published last week in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. It examined the temperature of ocean water from the surface down to 6,560 feet, comparing data back to 1955. Long-term warming is strongest in the Atlantic and Southern Oceans, but the north Pacific has had a “dramatic” temperature increase since 1990, the study said, and the Med posted a record high last year.

“The state of our oceans can measure the world’s health, and judging by the updated oceanic observations…we need a doctor,” the scientists wrote.

The oceans are a reliable indicator of climate change because they are less affect ted by seasonal changes and weather cycles on land. They also cover three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, and absorb most of the world’s heat.

Indeed, the amount of heat added to the oceans just last year is the equivalent of 100 times the amount of heat generated by electricity around the world, the study said. Since 1970, more than 90 percent of the world’s excess heat went into the oceans.

Warming ocean waters can supercharge weather patterns, creating more powerful storms, hurricanes and floods. They also are a major driver of sea level rise, since heat causes water to expand, leading to more coastal erosion and storm surges. Warming ocean water also degrades coral reefs, home to a quarter of the world’s marine life, and can be harmful to individual species of fish. Read more:

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-ocean-heat-content

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