Ocean temperatures are now off the charts and scientists are worried | CNN (2023)

Ocean temperatures are now off the charts and scientists are worried | CNN (1)

A diver observes coral reefs in the Society Islands of French Polynesia, where severe bleaching has occurred, in May 2019.


ocean surface heatrecord levelTemperatures began to rise in mid-March and soared within weeks, leaving scientists scrambling to figure out why.

Temperatures are down from their peak in April, as they naturally are in spring, but still above all-time records for this time of year.

"It's remarkable," said Gregory C. Johnson, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which uses ships, buoys, satellites and a network of buoys to calculate ocean surface temperatures.

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While this is still preliminary data, if true, "it will be another milestone," he said.

That record might not sound like much—it was nearly two-tenths of a degree warmer than the previous record, set in 2016—but considering the heat it takesheating this huge volume of water"It's a huge amount of energy," Matthew Engndahl, a professor of ocean and climate dynamics at the University of New South Wales in Australia, told CNN.

The reasons behind this rapid growth are not yet fully understood. "These temperatures are shooting up and people haven't had a chance to take it all in," Johnson said.

Some scientists worry that the scale of these new records could mark the beginning of a worrying trend. Others say record temperatures like these are always worrisome, but expected given the man-made climate crisis.

Everyone agrees that the consequences can be serious. Warmer oceans are bleaching corals, killing marine life, raising sea levels and making the oceans less effective at absorbing pollution from global warming. As the oceans warm, the planet will become warmer.

return of the child

One of the main drivers of the heat is believed to be the impending and potentially strong impact of El Niño, a natural weather variation associated with warming in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, with global warming implications.

The world has just emerged from the 3-year La Niña, the cooler counterpart to El Niño, which helped completely mask the effects of global warming. fromLa Niña ends in March, scientists say ocean temperatures appear to be rising.

"It's like leaving the refrigerator door open for a while and it helps cool the planet," Johnson said. But even with the cooler on, the temperature of the bottom continued to rise. Now that the fridge is closed, everything is warmer than before.

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The World Meteorological Organization said on Wednesday that approx80% chanceEl Niño will develop between July and September. But part of what confuses scientists is that the temperature has already risen so much before it arrives.

Some worry that this suggests climate change could play out in ways that climate models have not predicted.

"El Nino is happening, but it's probably too early to attribute it," Professor Mike Meredith, chief scientist at the British Antarctic Survey, told CNN. Find out what's causing this [sea surface temperature range] and understand if this is an isolated heat extreme or the start of a more worrying trend.”

the deepest ocean heat

Surface temperatures tell a lot about what's happening in the world's oceans.

But to understand where the world is going in the long term, it's also important to study deeper ocean temperatures, said Sarah Purkey, an assistant professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Thousands of buoys in the world's oceans measure their heat content, analyzing temperatures from the surface to deep water and feeding back data.

"Due to human-induced global warming, the heat content of the oceans is remarkably constant and sometimes accelerating." The oceans absorb about 90 percent of the excess heat produced by the world and its environment25% carbon pollution.

FRENCH POLYNESIA - SOCIETY ISLANDS - MAY 9: A diver observes a coral reef in the Society Islands in French Polynesia. May 9, 2019 in Moorea, French Polynesia. Coral reefs in the Society Islands of French Polynesia are currently undergoing severe bleaching. The team of marine biologists from CRIOBE (Centre for Island Research and Environmental Observations) are experts in the study of coral ecosystems. They are currently working on "rubber corals". The team of Dr. Laetitia Hédouin identifies, labels and genetically analyzes corals unaffected by heat stress. They then produced coral cuttings grown in a "coral nursery" and compared them to other colonies studying coral resilience. (Photo by Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images) Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images Oceans just hit their warmest temperatures on record as El Niño approaches. Here are 6 things to remember

In 2022, the ocean ishottest ever recordedFor the fourth consecutive year.

ONEstudyA study published in April found that heat in the climate system is increasing at an accelerating rate, which is bad news for the oceans.

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It found that the rate of change in the amount of heat the Earth stores has more than doubled in the past two decades, and most of it is going into the oceans.

"It's really urgent to figure this out because if it's part of a long-term trend, that's really, really worrying," he said. Karina von Schuckmann, an oceanographer at Mercator Ocean International in France, is a co-author of the study.

A surprising reason may be the reduction of aerosols in the atmosphere. Regulations to limit the sulfur content of fuel ships were introduced in 2020, a policy aimed at tackling air pollution.

While air pollution has a significant impact on human health, it also affects asartificial sunscreenand reflect sunlight away from the earth. One theory is that the presence of aerosols could be causing the temperature to rise, von Schuckmann said.

Worrying effects of ocean warming

whatever the reason behind rises Ocean heat, if temperatures continue to go off the charts, the impact could be catastrophic.

The ocean protects us from the full impact of the climate crisis. "We have the ocean to thank for most of the work we do in the climate system, otherwise we would have seen impacts that are literally 100 times greater than what we're seeing now," Purkey said.

But this buffering effect comes at a high price.

Warmer oceans are causing coral reef bleachingtoxic algae blooms, which can absorb oxygen from the water and suffocate marine life, sometimesforcing the fishery to closeWarmer ocean water is also less efficient at absorbing carbon, meaning more carbon remains in the atmosphere, which in turn contributes to increased global warming.

Ocean temperatures are now off the charts and scientists are worried | CNN (3)
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In 2019, coral reefs bleached in the Society Islands of Moorea, French Polynesia.

As ocean water warms, sea levels rise, not only because ice sheets are melting, but also because ocean water expands as it warms.

surface heatingsupercharged cycloneand hurricanes.

Original by Syedsazzadulhoque, Climate Central Our underwater future: sea level rise around the world

Scientists are particularly concerned about the effects of warmingmeridional overturning flow, an oceanic "conveyor belt" that pushes surface water into the deeper ocean and plays a key role in regulating Earth's energy balance. "That's probably the most important thing to watch," Purkey said.

The strength of ocean currents will determine how effectively the ocean absorbs excess human-generated heat, he said. And, for example, if the Atlantic overturning current weakens or even collapses, the consequences could be dire, including very cold winters in Western Europe, rapid sea-level rise, and the disruption of tropical monsoons.

So far, sea surface temperatures have started to drop, although they remain high for this time of year.

As scientists continue to analyze the causes of record-breaking ocean warming, it is clear that records will continue to be broken as the climate crisis intensifies.

"I hope this is a wake-up call to everyone around the world that the warming trajectory we're on won't stop until we get emissions to zero," England said.

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Why are scientists worried about the warming of the ocean? ›

Warmer oceans can kill off marine life, lead to more extreme weather and raise sea levels. They are also less efficient at absorbing planet-warming greenhouse gases.

Are ocean temperatures increasing or decreasing? ›

The average global sea surface temperature has increased about 1.5oF since 1901, an average rate of 0.13oF per decade. The average global sea surface temperature has been consistently higher during the past three decades than at any other time since reliable records began in 1880.

What is happening to the temperature of the oceans? ›

The oceans of the world are warming up, their average temperatures pushed higher and higher each year by human-caused global warming.

Are ocean temperatures rising? ›

Ninety percent of global warming is occurring in the ocean, causing the water's internal heat to increase since modern recordkeeping began in 1955, as shown in the upper chart. (The shaded blue region indicates the 95% margin of uncertainty.) This chart shows annual estimates for the first 2,000 meters of ocean depth.

Why is ocean temperature rising a problem? ›

Increasing ocean heat content is contributing to sea level rise, ocean heat waves and coral bleaching, and melting of ocean-terminating glaciers and ice sheets around Greenland and Antarctica. Heat already stored in the ocean will eventually be released, committing Earth to additional surface warming in the future.

Is ocean warming a problem? ›

The ocean absorbs most of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions, leading to rising ocean temperatures. Increasing ocean temperatures affect marine species and ecosystems, causing coral bleaching and the loss of breeding grounds for marine fishes and mammals.

How can we stop rising ocean temperature? ›

Here are some ways you can make a difference.
  1. Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions. ...
  2. Conserve Marine Ecosystems. ...
  3. Build up Coastal Ecosystems. ...
  4. Monitor Human Activities. ...
  5. Expand Scientific Research. ...
  6. Remove Carbon Dioxide Already in the Atmosphere. ...
  7. Buy Local and Sustainably Caught Seafood.
Sep 20, 2022

Are the oceans warming faster than anticipated 2023? ›

2023 is on pace to be the hottest, surpassing last year half a degree celsius, and the average by nearly one degree. Since mid-March, the world's oceans have been hotter than at anytime since at least 1982, raising concerns among some climate experts about accelerated warming.

Does the temperature of the ocean decrease? ›

Temperatures in the oceans decrease with increasing depth. There are no seasonal changes at the greater depths. The temperature range extends from 30 °C (86 °F) at the sea surface to −1 °C (30.2 °F) at the seabed.

What are 3 consequences of changing ocean temperatures? ›

As the excessive heat and energy warms the ocean, the change in temperature leads to unparalleled cascading effects, including ice-melting, sea-level rise, marine heatwaves, and ocean acidification.

How can ocean temp affect climate? ›

Ocean currents act as conveyer belts of warm and cold water, sending heat toward the polar regions and helping tropical areas cool off. The world's ocean is crucial to heating the planet. While land areas and the atmosphere absorb some sunlight, the majority of the sun's radiation is absorbed by the ocean.

Is it colder next to the ocean? ›

The cooler air over the ocean will flow to the warmer air off the coast, creating what we call a Sea Breeze, thus making it feel a bit cooler when along a waterfront.

How fast are the oceans warming? ›

As a result, the top 700 meters (2,300 feet) of the global ocean has warmed about 1.5°F since 1901. And scientists recently found that the rate of warming in the top 6,500 feet of the ocean over the past few decades was about 40 percent higher than previously estimated.

Is The ocean Rising or Falling? ›

Yes, sea level is rising at an increasing rate. With continued ocean and atmospheric warming, sea levels will likely rise for many centuries at rates higher than that of the current century.

How warm will the oceans be in 2050? ›

RCP2. 6 assumes high technological development, and a levelling off of greenhouse emissions by 2050, followed by a return to 2020 levels by 2100. This pathway predicts a rise in global sea surface temperature of 0.8°C by 2050, and 1.2°C by 2100, relative to 1870–1899 temperatures.

Why is the world getting hotter? ›

Air temperatures on Earth have been rising since the Industrial Revolution. While natural variability plays some part, the preponderance of evidence indicates that human activities—particularly emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases—are mostly responsible for making our planet warmer.

What is the highest recorded ocean temperature in history? ›

The global ocean surface temperature reached 21.1°C (69.98°F) in early April, the highest recorded ocean surface temperature since records began.

How much has the ocean warmed in the last 100 years? ›

Over the past 100 years, global temperatures have risen about 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F), with sea level response to that warming totaling about 160 to 210 mm (with about half of that amount occurring since 1993), or about 6 to 8 inches.

Is the Atlantic Ocean getting warmer? ›

Additionally, the team found that ocean waters have been steadily warming since 1958, with each decade warmer than the last. Warming has significantly increased since the 1980s. Over recent decades, portions of the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean have warmed the most.

What are the 3 causes of sea-level rise? ›

First, glaciers and ice sheets worldwide are melting and adding water to the ocean. Second, the volume of the ocean is expanding as the water warms. A third, much smaller contributor to sea level rise is a decline in the amount of liquid water on land—aquifers, lakes and reservoirs, rivers, soil moisture.

Is the Pacific Ocean getting warmer? ›

UH: Since at least 1980, the tropical Pacific warming pattern has become more La Niña-like in the observations. This means that SSTs are warming faster in the western tropical Pacific Ocean than the eastern Pacific, and that surface winds are blowing stronger from east-to-west along the equatorial Pacific Ocean (5).

Can we save the ocean? ›

Oceans cover 71 percent of the planet and are home to important species and ecosystems that we rely on for food, livelihoods, climate regulation and more. But the oceans need our help. Saving the oceans can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task, but if we all pitch in, we can make a big difference.

How can we stop rising sea levels in 100 years? ›

Reduce your footprint.
  1. Greenhouse gasses are a major contributor to sea level rise. ...
  2. buffers for coastal areas during rainstorms and hurricanes. ...
  3. from permeating into the ground and lead to an increase in runoff and erosion. ...
  4. clean the air and soak up rain. ...
  5. Obey “no-wake” zones. ...
  6. www.CleanOceanAction.org.

Can global warming be reversed? ›

Yes. While we cannot stop global warming overnight, we can slow the rate and limit the amount of global warming by reducing human emissions of heat-trapping gases and soot (“black carbon”).

Will 2024 be an El Nino year? ›

Forecasters from the World Meteorological Organization are reporting increased chances that the global climate pattern known as El Niño will arrive by the end of summer. With it comes increased chances for hotter-than-normal temperatures in 2024.

Is 2024 going to be hot? ›

Climate scientist James Hansen and his colleagues recently said, “We suggest that 2024 is likely to be off the chart as the warmest year on record.”

What will the ocean look like in 2050? ›

There will be more plastic than fish

Rivers of pollution flow into the ocean every day, with little sign of slowing down. Marine animals and birds now regularly eat plastic, and so do humans. It is estimated that by 2050 there could be more plastic in the sea than fish. As the plastic piles up, fish disappear.

Does the ocean get colder as it gets deeper? ›

Water gets colder with depth because cold, salty ocean water sinks to the bottom of the ocean basins below the less dense warmer water near the surface.

Which ocean is the warmest? ›

Looking at the entire oceans, however, the Pacific Ocean is by far the warmest overall ocean because it has about four times the intense sun-heated surface area in the tropics compared with the Atlantic Ocean.

Is the ocean warmer in the winter? ›

It is true that, typically, the water is colder in the winter—usually between 30 and 40 degrees—and warmer in the summer, sometimes reaching the upper 80s. As you'd expect, the sun beating down on the ocean does have a major effect on the water temperature—but wind plays a significant role in the temperature, too.

Are the ice sheets shrinking? ›

Key Takeaway: Antarctica is losing ice mass (melting) at an average rate of about 150 billion tons per year, and Greenland is losing about 270 billion tons per year, adding to sea level rise.

How much does the ocean temperature change from summer to winter? ›

Mid-latitude temperate regions show greater seasonal fluctuations in surface temperature than the poles or the tropics; an 8-15o C difference from summer to winter in temperate zones, compared to only ~2o C in polar and tropical areas.

What are the short term impacts of increasing temperatures in the ocean? ›

Higher temperatures will warm the sea. This will result in more heat energy, which will increase the potential for tropical cyclones to develop. As warming also leads to more evaporation, heavy rainfalls and snowfalls become more frequent, making floods and cyclones more severe.

Why is ocean temperature important? ›

Because the ocean covers 71 percent of Earth's surface, scientists record sea surface temperature (SST) to understand how the ocean communicates with Earth's atmosphere. SST provides fundamental information on the global climate system.

What affects the climate of the ocean? ›

Penetrative solar radiation warms the ocean surface causing more carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere. Oceanic processes of air-sea gas fluxes effect biological production and consequentially impacting climate.

What happens when water temperature increases? ›

Thermal expansion happens when water gets warmer, which causes the volume of the water to increase. About half of the measured global sea level rise on Earth is from warming waters and thermal expansion.

Is water warmer at night? ›

At night, while the land cools off quickly, the water at the surface is kept warmer because the water is mixed around with the warmer water underneath. All of this mixing keeps the temperature in the area more constant, not like the land that goes from hot to cold.

Which ocean is coldest? ›

A “supercoolometer”, a device that sounds like it should be used to measure hipsters, has found the coldest seawater on Earth, under Antarctic sea ice.

Is land colder than the ocean? ›

This causes land areas to heat more rapidly and to higher temperatures and also cool more rapidly and to lower temperatures, compared to oceans. The high heat capacity of water also explains why the temperatures of land near a body of water are more moderate.

Why do scientists worry about the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in ocean water? ›

Because of human-driven increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, there is more CO2 dissolving into the ocean. The ocean's average pH is now around 8.1 , which is basic (or alkaline), but as the ocean continues to absorb more CO2, the pH decreases and the ocean becomes more acidic.

How does global warming affect the ocean? ›

First, climate change is causing some serious changes in oceans, including temperature increase, sea level rise, and acidification. Oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere, and concurrently oxygen levels are decreasing.

What is one of the biggest threat to our ocean according to scientists? ›

Ocean Threats

From coral bleaching to sea level rise, entire marine ecosystems are rapidly changing. Global warming is causing alterations in ocean chemistry and many oceanic processes, and it is threatening many species of marine animals that cannot cope with higher temperatures.

How does ocean warming affect humans? ›

First, ocean warming makes earth less habitable for humans as sea level rises and we lose coastal habitats. Second, ocean warming is making fish smaller, making fish stocks smaller, and change where fish are caught; this becomes a food security problem.

Why weren t scientists initially concerned that the ocean absorbs excess carbon dioxide? ›

Scientists formerly didn't worry about this process because they always assumed that rivers carried enough dissolved chemicals from rocks to the ocean to keep the ocean's pH stable.

What does too much carbon dioxide in the ocean cause? ›

Too much carbon dioxide in the air is a problem, as it causes the Earth to trap more heat. The ocean absorbs about one-quarter of the CO2 that humans create when we burn fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas). Too much carbon dioxide in the ocean causes a problem called ocean acidification.

Why is too much carbon dioxide in the ocean a big problem? ›

The massive amount of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the ocean dissolves in seawater as carbonic acid. This process is known as ocean acidification, and it's literally causing a sea change that is threatening the fundamental chemical balance of ocean and coastal waters from pole to pole.

How can we stop ocean warming? ›

Here are some ways you can make a difference.
  1. Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions. ...
  2. Conserve Marine Ecosystems. ...
  3. Build up Coastal Ecosystems. ...
  4. Monitor Human Activities. ...
  5. Expand Scientific Research. ...
  6. Remove Carbon Dioxide Already in the Atmosphere. ...
  7. Buy Local and Sustainably Caught Seafood.
Sep 20, 2022

What are three ways carbon dioxide is affecting the oceans? ›

Ocean acidification, paired up with other climate impacts like warming waters, deoxygenation, melting ice, and coastal erosion, pose real threats to the survival of many marine species.

What is the biggest danger in the ocean? ›

The most common incidents are injuries from stony coral and sea urchins and stings from jellyfish, fire coral, stonefish, and sea anemones. Most dangerous are activities that lead to drowning, envenomation by box jellyfish, and attacks by sharks.

What are 5 threats to the ocean environment list down? ›

5 of the biggest threats to life in our oceans
  • Ocean noise. ...
  • Ship strikes. ...
  • Climate change. ...
  • Entanglement in fishing gear. ...
  • Plastics and ocean debris.
Jun 2, 2020

What is one threat to the ocean? ›

Climate change

It's estimated that 75% of the world's reefs are threatened. Ocean acidification, caused by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, is dissolving the shells of animals such as oysters, shrimp, and lobsters and is having other widespread effects on marine life.

Are humans affecting the ocean? ›

Human development and activity leads to pollution (such as point source, non-point source, and noise pollution) and physical modifications (such as changes to beaches, shores and rivers). In addition, humans have removed most of the large vertebrates from the ocean.

What are three human impacts on the ocean? ›

Human activities affect marine life and marine habitats through overfishing, habitat loss, the introduction of invasive species, ocean pollution, ocean acidification and ocean warming.

How does ocean affect human health? ›

Intensive use of our ocean and runoff from land-based pollution sources are just two of many factors that stress our fragile ecosystems—and increasingly lead to human health concerns. Waterborne infectious diseases, harmful algal bloom toxins, contaminated seafood, and chemical pollutants are other signals.


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