In the past few weeks, the world’s oceans have spiked in temperature, surpassing record levels and raising concerns among climate scientists.
The global average ocean sea surface temperature rose nearly two-tenths of a degree Celsius in just two months, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer.
The temperature of the world’s ocean surface has hit an all-time high since satellite records began, leading to marine heatwaves around the globe, according to US government data.
Climate scientists also said data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) showed the average temperature at the ocean’s surface has been at 21.1C since or 69.98 degrees Fahrenheit the start of April – beating the previous high set in 2016 of 21C, or 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The current trajectory looks like it’s headed off the charts, smashing previous records,” said Prof Matthew England, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales
Some scientists attribute the sudden increase to the natural warming weather condition El Nino, which is brewing and possibly strong, as well as a rebound from three years of cooling La Nina. Others argue that there are several ocean warming spots that don’t fit an El Nino pattern.
Dr Mike McPhaden, a senior research scientist at NOAA, said: “The recent ‘triple dip’ La Niña has come to an end. This prolonged period of cold was tamping down global mean surface temperatures despite the rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
“Now that it’s over, we are likely seeing the climate change signal coming through loud and clear.”
The warming has been especially evident off the coast of Peru and Ecuador, where most El Ninos began before the 1980s. Until last month, the world has been in a cooling phase, which was unusually strong and lasted three years.
“This is an unusual pattern. This is an extreme event at a global scale” in areas that don’t fit with merely an El Nino, said Princeton University climate scientist Gabe Vecchi.
Scientists say that the ocean’s deeper water has been heating steadily due to global warming caused by greenhouse gases, and if the current trend continues, record-breaking heat records could be shattered.
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