Global warming isn’t only cooking our atmosphere, its also heating up the oceans.
The world’s seas were the warmest on record in 2018, scientists announced Thursday. Also, ocean temperatures are rising faster than previously thought, a new paper said.
Specifically, they’re warming as much as 40 percent faster than an estimate from a United Nations panel just five years ago.
“If you want to see where global warming is happening, look in our oceans,” said paper co-author Zeke Hausfather, in a statement. “Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought,” said Hausfather, who is a climate scientist with Carbon Brief.
He also said that while 2018 was the 4th-warmest year on record in the atmosphere, it was the warmest year on record in the oceans, as was 2017 and 2016 before that. In fact, Hausfather told Reuters that records for ocean warming have been broken almost yearly since 2000.
Overall, while we’re rightly concerned about what climate change is doing to our atmosphere, ocean heating is critical because an estimated 93 percent of all heat trapped by greenhouse gases settles in the world’s oceans.
Global warming is caused by humanity’s burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, which release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the earth’s atmosphere and oceans.
“Global warming is here, and has major consequences already. There is no doubt, none!” the paper’s authors wrote.
The new analysis also shows that trends in ocean heat content match those predicted by top climate change computer models.
Laure Zanna, an associate professor of climate physics at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the study, told the New York Times that the new research was “a very nice summary of what we know of the ocean and how far the new estimates have come together.”
The unusual warmth in the seas is harming marine life and coral reefs. It’s also contributing to rising sea levels around the world as ice melts near Antarctica and Greenland.
The research was published Thursday in a “Perspectives” paper in the peer-reviewed journal Science.
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