In the World's Oceans, 'a Cause for Great Concern'

Earth's seas have busted temperature records every day over the past year, per BBC analysis
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2024 8:22 AM CDT
In the World's Oceans, 'a Cause for Great Concern'
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Gloria Parker)

This past April was the hottest on record, according to the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service, making it the 11th month in a row to claim that designation. Now, using data from that same agency, the BBC finds that the Earth's oceans are fighting a similarly heated battle—literally. A recent analysis by the UK broadcaster has revealed that the world's seas have crushed temperature records every single day since May 4 of last year, evidence that their ability to absorb most of the world's heat (around 90%) may be starting to be stretched to the limit. In February and March, for example, Copernicus found that sea surface temps reached 21.09 degrees Celsius, or just under 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

The BBC also reports that, in close to 50 days over the past year, the daily record was broken by upward of 0.3 degrees Celsius. "Never before in the satellite era had the margin of record been this big," the outlet notes. NBC News reports that average sea-surface temperatures are about 1.25 degrees Fahrenheit higher than those registered between 1982 and 2011, according to the University of Maine's Climate Reanalyzer. "These are real signs of the environment moving into areas where we really don't want it to be, and if it carries on in that direction, the consequences will be severe," Mike Meredith from the British Antarctic Survey tells the BBC, calling the findings "a cause for great concern."

The warmer waters are having a detrimental effect on the world's corals, with mass bleaching taking place, and on marine life. Scientists also fear hurricane season may be gnarly this year as a result. Researchers point the finger at climate change, as well as the effects of El Niño, for the increasingly heated waters. They speculate that other factors in play may include milder trade winds (which means less dust to absorb heat) and shifts in maritime regulations that may have decreased sulfur production and, therefore, cloud cover, leading to more energy absorption by the seas, per NBC. More here from the New York Times on how the increasingly warmer oceans "could upend life on Earth." (More climate change stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.