Science 3 min read

Ocean Temperature in 2019 Was Highest in Recorded History

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According to a team of scientists, last year’s ocean temperature is the highest in recorded history.

The oceans absorb over 90 percent of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions. That means scientists often track ocean temperature to maintain an accurate read of the rate of global warming.

During such an exercise, a team of international researchers analyzed data compiled by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) in China. They were looking for insight into ocean warmth to a depth of 2,000 meters over several decades.

However, their findings — in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences — revealed something more alarming.

It turns out that oceans last year were by far the hottest ever recorded. What’s more, the researchers noted that the planet is already experiencing the effect of the warming oceans.

These include extreme weather events, rising sea levels, as well as damage to marine life.

Here’s a breakdown of their findings.

Highest Ocean Temperature In Recorded History

According to the team, last year’s ocean temperature was 0.075 °C hotter than the historical average between 1981-2010.

The world’s oceans absorbed a whopping 228 Zetta Joules of energy in recent decades. In simpler terms, that’s 228 billion trillion joules.

Lead paper author and associate professor at the International Centre for Climate and Environmental Sciences at the IAP, Cheng Lijin said:

“That’s a lot of zeros. The amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom bomb explosions.”

The study further suggested that the last five years have been the hottest for the ocean. Compared with the 2018’s figure, the sea absorbed an additional 25 Zetta joules of energy last year.

That’s equivalent to everyone on the planet running a hundred hairdryers or a hundred microwaves continuously for the entire year,” says the director of Penn State’s Earth System Sciences Center, Michael Mann to AFP.

The 2015 Paris Climate Pledge aims to limit the global temperature to well below 2°C, and if possible, 1.5°C. However, recent studies suggest that we’re nowhere on track to meet the target.

Even if countries manage to reduce emissions in line with the Paris goals, it may be too late.

The ocean’s absorption capacity is far higher than the atmosphere’s. So, they will continue to warm even when emissions are down.

If we stop warming up the planet, heat will continue to diffuse down into the deep ocean for centuries, until eventually stabilizing,” Mann concluded.

Read More: The 2010s was the Hottest Decade Ever on Record

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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