Ocean temperatures hit high record in 2022: Analysis
The seas control global weather patterns, and climate catastrophe is leading to profound and harmful changes.
In 2022, the world's waters were the warmest ever recorded, indicating the vast and pervasive changes induced by human-generated emissions to the planet's climate.
More than 90% of the excess heat confined by greenhouse gas emissions is absorbed in the oceans. The records, starting in 1958, show an unavoidable rise in ocean temperature, with an acceleration in warming after 1990.
Sea surface temperatures have a significant impact on global weather. Hotter waters contribute to more violent hurricanes and typhoons, as well as more moisture in the air, which causes more intense rainfall and flooding. Warmer water also expands, raising sea levels and putting coastal cities at risk.
Because the temperature of the oceans is significantly less impacted by natural climate variability than that of the atmosphere, the oceans are unmistakable indicators of global warming.
When the final data is compiled, last year is projected to be the fourth or fifth highest on record for surface air temperatures. The third La Nia event in a row occurred in 2022, which is the cooler phase of an irregular climatic cycle centered in the Pacific that affects worldwide weather patterns. When El Nio strikes again, global air temperatures will be boosted even higher.
The international team of scientists that worked on the new ocean heat analysis concluded: “The Earth’s energy and water cycles have been profoundly altered due to the emission of greenhouse gases by human activities, driving pervasive changes in Earth’s climate system.”
According to research released on Monday by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the climate crisis has made several extreme weather occurrences in 2022 more likely and intense, such as the heavy rain that caused disastrous floods in Chad, Niger, and Nigeria.
Read more: When nature 'strikes back', the world floods
"We are moving in the wrong way"
Reliable ocean temperature observations date back to 1940, yet the seas are likely to be at their warmest in 1,000 years and heating faster than at any time in the last 2,000 years.
The study, published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, combines different analyses by Chinese and US teams to compute the heat content of the top 2,000 meters, where most of the heating occurs.
In 2022, the oceans absorbed around 10 zettajoules more heat than in 2021, which is comparable to every person on Earth using 40 hairdryers all day, every day.
The warming of the oceans, as well as the effects of extreme weather, will worsen until mankind achieves net zero emissions.
The World Meteorological Organization reported in October that the concentrations of all the major greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide - in the atmosphere had reached record highs. Prof. Petteri Taalas, chairman of the World Meteorological Organization, stated, "We are moving in the wrong way."
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