Ocean surface temperatures hit record high and are on a rising trend
Sattelite data reveal that ocean surface temperatures are at a record high and scientists expect further rises as the El Nino pattern takes over later in the year.
The world’s ocean surface temperature has reached its highest historical levels since satellites began taking records of the indicator, according to US government data.
This has caused marine heat waves worldwide. Scientists say that the average temperature at the ocean’s surface has been at a record 21.1° C since the beginning of April. The previous record was set at 21° C in 2016.
Climate experts such as Professor Mathew England of the University of New South Wales believe that the current trajectory will head off the charts and “smash previous records.”
Scientists say La Nina, an oceanic and atmospheric phenomenon that spreads over the tropical Pacific, has helped suppress global temperatures.
However, a counter-temperature wave is currently on the rise following a historical pattern in the tropical Pacific climate. The El Nino pattern, expected to commence later this year is set to fully reveal the effects of increased greenhouse emissions around the world.
Scientists speculate the risk of extreme weather conditions and a further increase in global heat records.
Dr. Mike PcPhaden, a senior research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), stated, “The recent ‘triple dip’ La Nina has come to an end. This prolonged period of cold was tamping down global mean surface temperatures despite the rise of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.”
The previous record for the hottest surface ocean temperatures coincided with the El Nino pattern that occurred between 2014 and 2016, according to the Noaa data.
Studies show that more than 90% of the extra heat on planet Earth is due to the consumption of fossil fuels and deforestation.
“What we are seeing now is the emergence of a warming signal that more clearly reveals the footprint of our increased interference with the climate system,” said Professor England.
Dr. Alex Sen Gupta, an associate professor at the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, revealed that satellite data showed that temperature rises on the ocean surface have been “almost linear” since the 1980s on the ocean surface.
Dr. Sen Gupta said that he is surprised that the world has experienced warm temperatures despite the cool La Nina pattern. He also pointed out how “it is now warmer still and we are getting what looks like record temperatures.”
Currently, moderate to strong marine heatwaves have been observed in several regions, such as the southern Indian Ocean, the south Atlantic, off north-west Africa, around New Zealand, off the northeast of Australia, and the west of Central America.
Hotter oceans will increase the energy of storms and will put ice sheets at risk of melting which would push up global sea levels.
The heatwaves can also devastate marine wildlife and destroy coral reefs.