Quantcast

2018 Was the Hottest Year Ever Recorded for Our Oceans

Oceans
Bleached coral at the Great Barrier Reef. The Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey / Richard Vevers

The year 2018 was the hottest year for the planet's oceans ever since record-keeping began in 1958, according to a worrisome new study from international scientists.

The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, noted that the five warmest years for our oceans were the last five years—2018, 2017, 2015, 2016 and 2014 (in order of decreasing ocean heat content).


This increase in ocean heat is "incontrovertible proof that the Earth is warming," the study states.

[Read how the world's oceans are warming 40 percent faster than scientists previously thought.]

To illustrate, the heat increase from 2017 to 2018 alone is roughly 388 times more than China's total electricity generation in 2017, according to a press release of the study.

"The new data, together with a rich body of literature, serve as an additional warning to both the government and the general public that we are experiencing inevitable global warming," lead author Lijing Cheng, an oceanographer from the Beijing's Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in the release.

A slew of recent scientific reports have sounded the alarm on our warming oceans. The same group of scientists behind the current study revealed in Science last week that the world's oceans are warming about 40 percent faster than previously thought.

Also this month, a different team of scientists showed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the average heating of the oceans in the last 150 years was equivalent to the dropping of 1.5 atomic bombs per second.

Earth's seas, which absorb more than 90 percent of the extra solar energy trapped by greenhouse gasses, are vital to our existence. This continued ocean warming has potentially devastating consequences, including sea level rise, stronger and wetter storms and melting polar ice. Marine life, especially coral reefs, are also vulnerable.

"The ocean and global warming have already taken place and caused serious damage and losses to both the economy and society," Cheng said in the press release.

The researchers, who predict that ocean heat will continue to rise, urged immediate action to slow this alarming trend.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on Nov. 15, 2018 in Paradise, Calif. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Respecting scientists has never been a priority for the Trump Administration. Now, a new investigation from The Guardian revealed that Department of the Interior political appointees sought to play up carbon emissions from California's wildfires while hiding emissions from fossil fuels as a way to encourage more logging in the national forests controlled by the Interior department.

Read More
Slowing deforestation, planting more trees, and cutting emissions of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases like methane could cut another 0.5 degrees C or more off global warming by 2100. South_agency / E+ / Getty Images

By Dana Nuccitelli

Killer hurricanes, devastating wildfires, melting glaciers, and sunny-day flooding in more and more coastal areas around the world have birthed a fatalistic view cleverly dubbed by Mary Annaïse Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council as "de-nihilism." One manifestation: An increasing number of people appear to have grown doubtful about the possibility of staving-off climate disaster. However, a new interactive tool from a climate think tank and MIT Sloan shows that humanity could still meet the goals of the Paris agreement and limit global warming.

Read More
Sponsored
A baby burrowing owl perched outside its burrow on Marco Island, Florida. LagunaticPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.

Read More
Amazon and other tech employees participate in the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice continue to protest today. Karen Ducey / Getty Images

Hundreds of Amazon workers publicly criticized the company's climate policies Sunday, showing open defiance of the company following its threats earlier this month to fire workers who speak out on climate change.

Read More
Locusts swarm from ground vegetation as people approach at Lerata village, near Archers Post in Samburu county, approximately 186 miles north of Nairobi, Kenya on Jan. 22. "Ravenous swarms" of desert locusts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia threaten to ravage the entire East Africa subregion, the UN warned on Jan. 20. TONY KARUMBA / AFP / Getty Images

East Africa is facing its worst locust infestation in decades, and the climate crisis is partly to blame.

Read More