Ocean temperature rise at the surface has reached a disturbing milestone. Thereby hitting their highest recorded level. That’s as the consequences of climate breakdown continue to escalate. The burning of fossil fuels has triggered a significant rise in ocean temperatures. Especially with global average daily sea surface temperatures (SST) surpassing the previous record set in 2016. According to the Copernicus climate modelling service. For the current SST stands at a staggering 20.96°C.
In addition, that’s surpassing the previous record of 20.95°C. This unprecedented increase in temperatures is causing concern among scientists. Especially as oceans typically reach their peak warmth globally in March; not August. Dr Samantha Burgess, from Copernicus, expresses her apprehension about the future trajectory of ocean temperatures, remarking, “The fact that we’ve seen the record now makes me nervous about how much warmer the ocean may get between now and next March.”
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Ocean Temperature Rise: The Impact of Fossil Fuel Emissions
The rising sea surface temperatures are, in part, driven by the El Niño weather phenomenon. The year 2016, which also witnessed record-breaking temperatures, coincided with an El Niño event. However, it is essential to acknowledge that climate breakdown and the heating atmosphere exacerbate these weather patterns. The continued burning of fossil fuels intensifies the problem, as more excess heat is absorbed by the oceans. Consequently, it will take longer to stabilize ocean temperatures and restore them to their previous state. Despite the scientific consensus on the detrimental effects of fossil fuel emissions, the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, recently made a controversial decision to grant over 100 new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea, disregarding the advice of climate experts.
The Crucial Role of our Ocean and the Temperature Rise
Oceans play a crucial role in regulating the Earth’s climate. They act as a heat sink, absorbing excess heat and influencing weather patterns. Additionally, oceans serve as a carbon sink, absorbing and storing substantial amounts of carbon dioxide. Moreover, the cool air blowing off the sea can provide respite from scorching land temperatures. However, these beneficial impacts diminish as ocean temperatures rise. Warmer waters have reduced capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, resulting in its accumulation in the atmosphere. Furthermore, the warming of oceans contributes to the melting of ice, leading to sea-level rise.
Historical Data and Warming Trends
Understanding the long-term implications of rising ocean surface temperatures requires a comprehensive analysis of historical data. Sea surface temperature measurements have been collected from ships for over 150 years, providing valuable insights into climate trends. In the past four decades, measurements from satellites and buoys have further supplemented this dataset. The analysis of this data reveals that global mean sea surface temperature has increased by approximately 0.9°C over the entire period, with a 0.6°C increase in the past four decades alone. The latest five-year average is approximately 0.2°C higher than the average between 1991 and 2020.
Areas of Concern
Certain regions are experiencing accelerated warming compared to others. Some of the fastest-warming areas include parts of the Arctic Ocean, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, and sections of the extra-tropical Pacific. These areas are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of rising ocean temperatures. The occurrence of marine heatwaves has become increasingly frequent worldwide. A study conducted in 2019 found that the number of heatwave days had tripled within a few years. Additionally, the number of heatwave days rose by more than 50% between 1925-1954 and the 30-year period leading up to 2016. The devastating effects of these heatwaves on marine ecosystems are comparable to wildfires that ravage vast forested areas.
The Consequences for Humanity
The consequences of rising ocean temperatures extend beyond ecological impacts. Humanity relies on the oceans for various essential services. Oceans provide a significant source of oxygen, support diverse marine ecosystems that contribute to the global food supply, and act as a crucial buffer against storms. Furthermore, oceans play a vital role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, as ocean temperatures continue to rise, these beneficial services will be compromised, posing significant challenges to human societies worldwide.
In conclusion, the alarming rise in ocean surface temperatures is a clear indication of the urgent need to address climate breakdown and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. The record-breaking temperatures observed in recent years highlight the severity of the situation. It is crucial that governments, industries, and individuals take immediate action to mitigate the causes of climate change and work towards a sustainable future. Failure to do so will result in irreparable damage to our oceans, ecosystems, and the well-being of future generations.
Article source and inspiration: The Guardian