An unexpected increase in sea temperature has worried scientists around the world, as they fear the impact that this effect could have on Earth.
The main concern is not only the warming of the seas that have been recorded in recent years. But this effect in combination with other meteorological phenomena could lead to the temperature reaching a disturbing level in the coming years.
Scientists are concerned about the rapid warming of the world’s oceans, which this month reached a new record high temperature.
In a recent study published in the journal Earth System Science Data, the cause of this warming is not fully understood, but experts believe it could be combined with other weather events in relation to new levels of global warming by the end of next year.
A significant new study also says that in the last 15 years, the Earth has accumulated almost as much heat as in the previous 45 years, with most of the extra energy going into the oceans.
Last week, a new study was published that showed that over the past 15 years, Earth has accumulated almost as much heat as it did over the past 45 years, with most of the extra energy going into the oceans.
The consequences of this are being felt in the real world, with sea surface temperatures off the east coast of North America in March 13.8C above the 1981-2011 average.
The reason for such a rapid and substantial change is not yet well established, Karina von Schuckmann, an oceanographer at research group Mercator Ocean International and lead author of the study told BBC.
She said that while warming has doubled significantly in the climate system over the past 15 years, it is unclear whether this is due to climate change, natural variability, or a combination of the two. However, the change can be clearly seen.
Possible loss of marine species
More frequent and intense marine heat waves cause massive mortality of marine life, and this is particularly damaging to coral reefs. Warmer oceans could lead to the death of marine life, more extreme weather and rising sea levels, and are less efficient at absorbing planet-warming greenhouse gases.
Increased heat at the ocean surface means that hurricanes and cyclones can form with more energy, which means they become more intense and longer lasting.
There is also a rise in sea level, warmer waters take up more space, in what is known as thermal expansion, and can greatly accelerate the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic glaciers that flow into the oceans. This raises the global sea level, increasing the risk of coastal flooding.
Another consequence is the lower capacity to absorb CO2: the oceans currently absorb around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. Warmer waters have less capacity to absorb CO2.
El Niño brings global impacts
Scientists are concerned about the El Nino Southern Oscillation weather phenomenon, which has been in a cold La Nina phase for the past three years and has helped keep global temperatures in check.
However, experts predict that a strong El Niño event will occur in the coming months, which could have significant impacts such as the death of marine life, extreme weather and sea level rise.
A coastal El Niño has already formed off the coasts of Peru and Ecuador, and researchers expect to observe the event as it fully formed. Dr Josef Ludescher of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research has warned that a new El Niño could result in an additional 0.2-0.25C of global warming, making 2024 the warmest year on record.
El Niño is also expected to disrupt weather patterns around the world, weaken monsoons and increase the likelihood of wildfires in Australia.
Heat release from ocean worrying
Experts are concerned that as more heat is absorbed by the ocean, the water may become less capable of storing the extra energy, resulting in a release of heat. However, one expressed extreme concern and stress over the situation.
According to some research, the trend of global warming is characterized by sudden upward jumps followed by small changes over many years, which are closely related to the occurrence of El Niño.
Karina von Schuckmann suggests that there is still hope in this situation, as temperatures may decrease after the El Niño event subsides. She stresses that there is still a window of opportunity to take action and reduce the consequences of climate change. Von Schuckmann urges that we must use this opportunity to take action.
What are the consequences of warming in the oceans?
According to the research, this increase in the temperature of the seas, which is around 0.9°C, could have devastating consequences for marine life and would be like a fuel that would allow the development of more powerful hurricanes and cyclones.
This minimal increase, although it seems insignificant, could have important consequences, according to the research that lists some of the effects:
- Loss of species: More frequent and intense marine heat waves cause massive mortality of marine life. This is especially detrimental to coral reefs.
- More extreme weather conditions: Increased heat at the ocean surface means that hurricanes and cyclones can form with more energy. This means that they become more intense and long-lasting.
- Sea level rise: Warmer waters take up more space—known as thermal expansion—and can greatly accelerate the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic glaciers that drain into the oceans. This raises the global sea level, increasing the risk of coastal flooding.
- Lower CO2 absorption capacity: The oceans currently absorb around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. Warmer waters have less capacity to absorb CO2. If less CO2 were absorbed by the oceans in the future, more would accumulate in the atmosphere, further warming the air and oceans.
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