The oceans have absorbed the heat of climate change, reaching the hottest temperatures on record, with dire implications for the health of our planet.
Average daily sea surface temperatures this week broke the record set in 2016, according to Copernicus, the European Union’s climate change service.
20.96°C was reached. Well above the average record for this time of year.
The ocean is an important regulator of climate. They absorb heat, generate half of the planet’s oxygen, and determine weather patterns.
Warmer ocean water is less able to absorb carbon dioxide, meaning more of the planet-warming gas remains in the atmosphere. They also accelerate the melting of glaciers that flow into the ocean, causing sea levels to rise.
Ocean warming and heat waves disrupt the search for cooler waters by marine species such as fish and whales, food chain imbalance. Experts warn that fish abundance could suffer.
Some predators, such as sharks, may become aggressive when confused by rising temperatures.
“When you jump in the water, it feels like a bathtub,” said Dr. Kathryn Lesneski, who monitors the Gulf heat for the NOAA office. English).
“Scale coral bleaching in shallow Florida reefs, many dead”he claimed.
“We’re putting more pressure on the oceans than at any point in history,” said Dr Matt Frost of the Marion Laboratory in Plymouth, UK, referring to the fact that pollution and overfishing are also changing the oceans.
Scientists worry about when the record will be broken.
Dr Samantha Burgess from the Copernicus Climate Change Service explains March should be the warmest month for the world’s oceans, not August.
“The fact that we’re seeing that record now makes me nervous about how warm the ocean is going to be between now and next March,” he said.
“It’s sobering to see how quickly this change is happening,” said Professor Mike Burrows, who monitors the impact off the coast of Scotland with the Scottish Society for Marine Science.
Scientists are investigating why the oceans are so hot right now, but they say Climate change is warming the oceans Because they absorb most of the heat generated by greenhouse gas emissions.
“The more fossil fuels we burn, the more excess heat the ocean absorbs, which means it takes longer for the ocean to stabilize and return to its original state,” Dr Burgess explained.
The new average temperature record shatters the record set in 2016, when the naturally occurring climate fluctuations of El Niño were in full swing and at their maximum intensity.
El Niño occurs when seawater off the west coast of South America rises to the surface, raising global temperatures.
Another El Niño has started, but scientists say it’s still weak, so Warmer-than-average ocean temperatures expected in coming months.
The new temperature records are as follows A series of heat waves this year This has happened in the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic and the UK.
“The marine heatwaves we’re seeing happen in unusual places that we didn’t expect,” Professor Burgess said.
According to the Met Office and the European Space Agency, water in the UK was 3 to 5 degrees Celsius above average in June.
The sea surface temperature in Florida, USA reached 38.44°C Last week, comparable to the water in the jacuzzi.
Typically, temperatures should be between 23°C and 31°C, according to NOAA.
Marine heat waves have doubled in frequency between 1982 and 2016, and they have become more intense and longer since the 1980sAccording to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
While temperatures have risen sharply in recent years, oceans have taken longer to warm even though they absorb 90 percent of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
But there are now signs that ocean temperatures are catching up.
one theory is Most of the heat was stored deep in the ocean and is now rising to the surfaceDr Karina von Schluckmann of Mercator Oceans International, a non-profit ocean data science organization, said it may have something to do with El Niño.
Although scientists already know that the sea surface will continue to warm due to greenhouse gas emissions, they are still investigating exactly why the temperature has risen so much compared to previous years.
Now you can receive notifications from BBC Mundo. Download new versions of our apps and activate them so you never miss out on our best content.