The oceans send an SOS: global warming has broken all records

By | May 6, 2023

levels – records play the heat on the surface of oceans. In the middle of last March the temperatures began to rise and, in recent weeks, they have skyrocketed, leaving scientists to try to understand Where is this release due?

He high temperatures in april – as they do every spring – but they are still higher than ever recorded for this time of year. As he explains to CNN, Gregory C. Johnsonan oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who estimates the surface temperature of the ocean using a network of ships, buoys, satellites and floating media, “It is notable”. He explains that, although they are preliminary figures, if they remain at these levels “we will have another milestone”.

The numbers may not seem huge, we are talking about one rise of almost two tenths of a degree centigrade higher than the previous negative record from 2016; However, given the amount of heat that is required to heat this large volume of water,”this is a lot of energy“, explains the professor of Ocean and Climate Dynamics at the University of New South Wales, Australia, Matthew England. It is not entirely clear what is behind this rapid increase. “We are talking about an increase in temperatures so recent that even We haven’t had a chance to figure it all out,” Johnson explains.

The start of a worrying trend

Some scientists fear that the scale of these new records could signal the start of a worrying trend. Others say that record temperatures like these are always a concern, but since climate crisis that it has been caused by man, expected. All, however, agree that the consequences are likely to be significant. The warmer oceans bleach the corals, they kill marine life, raise sea levels and make the ocean less efficient in absorbing pollution that warms the planet: the warmer the oceans get, the hotter the planet will get.

The return of El Nino

It is believed that one of the important factors in this increase is the El Niño phenomenon, a natural phenomenon linked climate variability with the warming in the central and eastern tropics Pacific Ocean, which has a global warming effect.

HE planet has just emerged from a three-year La Niña, the colder equivalent of El Niño, which helped mask the full impact of global warming. Since March, when La Nina ended, ocean temperatures seem to be picking up, scientists say. “It’s a bit like we left the freezer door open and that helped cool the planet down a bit,” Johnson explains. However, even with the door open, the temperatures continued to rise. Now that the door is closed, everything is warmer than before.

His Wednesday (03/05) the World Meteorological Organization announced that the the probability of El Niño occurring between July and September is 80%. Part of what worries them is that, before this happens, temperatures have risen so high. Some express concern that this increase indicates thatClimate change is evolving in ways not predicted by climate models.

“A new El Niño phenomenon is brewing, but it’s probably too soon to find its cause“However, it is vital to find out what is causing this warming and to understand whether it is just a high extreme or for the start of an even more disturbing trend“, he declares.

The bottom is also warmer.

He Ocean surface temperatures tell a story. about what’s going on in the background as well. To understand where the world is headed in the long term, it’s also important to look at deep temperatures, explained Scripps Institution of Oceanography assistant professor Sarah Purkey.

All over the world, in the oceans, thousands of floats measure their heat content, analyzing the temperature from the surface to the bottom, feeding back the data. “The heat content of the oceans is on a very constant, sometimes accelerating, increase.Purkey points out, referring to anthropogenic global warming. The oceans absorb about 90% of the excess heat the world produces, as well as about 25% of carbon pollution. In 2022, the oceans were the warmest on record for the fourth year in a row.

A study published in April finds that the heat in the climate accelerates, a fact that bodes ill for the oceans. He found that, in the last two decades, its rate of change The amount of heat that the Earth has accumulated has more than doubled over the last two decades, and most of it ends up in the oceans.

“Really is there is an urgent need to understand thisbecause it’s part of a long-term trend, and that’s extremely worrying,” says Karina von Schuckmann, an oceanographer at Mercator Ocean International in France and co-author of the study.

Incredible as it may seem, this could be attributed to the reduction of aerosols in the atmosphere. The regulations were introduced in 2020 to limit the amount of sulfur in ships’ fuel use, a policy intended to address air pollution. Although air pollution has a significant impact on human health, it also acts as an artificial sunscreen and reflects sunlight away from Earth. One theory is that the absence of aerosols may have raised the temperature, emphasizes von Schuckmann.

disturbing implications

Whatever the reasons behind the warming of the oceans, if temperatures continue to rise, the effects are potentially catastrophic. The oceans shield us from the full impact of the climate crisis. “We should be grateful to the oceans. that they are responsible for most of the damage we have caused to the climate system. If they don’t, the consequences they would actually be 100 times larger than what we are facing nowPurkey explains. This regulatory role, however, comes at a high cost.

He Warmer oceans cause coral reef bleaching and are associated with toxic algae blooms, which can suck oxygen from the water and suffocate marine life, sometimes forcing fisheries to close. Warmer waters are also less efficient at absorbing carbon, meaning it stays longer in the atmosphere, which in turn leads to more global warming. As the water heats up, the sea level is rising, not only due to the melting of the ice, but also due to the expansion of the water; with heating Surface heating increases cyclones and hurricanes.

HE scientific community is particularly concerned about the impact of the increase of the temperature in the meridional currents, the “conveyor belts” of the oceans They push surface waters towards the deepest layers of the ocean and play a decisive role in regulating the energy balance of the planet. “It’s probably the most important thing to see,” Purkey explains. The strength of the currents will determine the effectiveness of the oceans in absorbing the excess heat generated by humans. For exampleif the eddy current in the Atlantic Ocean weakens or even collapses, the consequences could be dire, including very cold winters in western Europe, a rapid rise in sea levels, and the disruption of the tropical monsoons.

At present, the Ocean surface temperatures have started to drop., although they are still high for the season. As scientists continue to analyze the reasons for this rise in temperature, it is clear that one negative record after another will continue to be broken as the climate crisis intensifies. “I hope it’s this a kind of awakening for everyone worldwide, that the upward spiral we are in will not stop until our emissions reach zero,” England stresses.


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