2019 Was the Oceans' Hottest Year on Record
The world's oceans just had their warmest year on record.
A study published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences Monday found that ocean temperatures reached record highs in 2019, and this is not an anomaly: The past five years have also been the warmest for the oceans since reliable measurements began in the 1950s.
[THREAD,1/9] Ocean heat content (0-2000m) data from IAP and NOAA/NCEI was just released, NO surprise, 2019 was the… https://t.co/XDWIGai6sg— Lijing Cheng (@Lijing Cheng)1578962686.0
This is a big deal because the oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the extra heat generated by the burning of fossil fuels.
"The oceans are really what tells you how fast the Earth is warming," study coauthor and University of St. Thomas professor John Abraham told The Guardian. "Using the oceans, we see a continued, uninterrupted and accelerating warming rate of planet Earth. This is dire news."
The oceans in 2019 were 0.075 degrees Celsius above the average for 1981 to 2010, according to a press release. This means they have absorbed 228,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules of heat.
"That's a lot of zeros indeed," lead author Lijing Cheng conceded in the press release. "To make it easier to understand, I did a calculation. The Hiroshima atom-bomb exploded with an energy of about 63,000,000,000,000 Joules. The amount of heat we have put in the world's oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions," Cheng, who is an associate professor with the International Center for Climate and Environmental Sciences at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, explained.
That means we've dumped the heat content of four bombs into the ocean every second for the last 25 years, according to CNN.
But the oceans aren't just getting warmer, they are also getting warmer faster. Warming was 450 percent greater between 1987 and 2019 than it was between 1955 and 1986. And heat increase in 2019 was the greatest in the past decade, The Guardian reported.
"We are now at five to six Hiroshima bombs of heat each second," Abraham told CNN.
The study was based on data from the Argo network of 3,000 floats that measure temperature and depth, The New York Times explained. That system was put in place in 2007, but researchers were able to calculate overall ocean temperatures from earlier years based on readings taken off the sides of ships.
The measurements cover the top 2,000 meters (approximately 6,562 feet) of the ocean, which is where most heat is stored and most marine life lives, The Guardian explained.
"For me, the take-home message is that the heat content of the upper layers of the global ocean, particularly to 300 metre depth, is rapidly increasing, and will continue to increase as the oceans suck up more heat from the atmosphere," Dan Smale of the UK's Marine Biological Association, who was not involved with the study, told The Guardian. "The upper layers of the ocean are vital for marine biodiversity, as they support some of the most productive and rich ecosystems on Earth, and warming of this magnitude will dramatically impact on marine life."
Those impacts include coral bleaching and deadly marine heat waves, like the North Pacific "blob" of 2013 to 2015, which killed 100 million cod, according to the press release. But it isn't only ocean creatures who suffer. Warmer oceans also fuel wetter, more damaging storms.
"The heavy rains in Jakarta just recently resulted, in part, from very warm sea temperatures in that region," study coauthor and National Center for Atmospheric Research senior scientist Kevin Trenberth told The New York Times.
[8/9] Consequences: melt ice from bottom, bleach coral reefs, rise sea level, fuel storms, reduce ocean dissolved o… https://t.co/6fhFq5Iz3L— Lijing Cheng (@Lijing Cheng)1578962975.0
Even if humans act immediately to address the climate crisis by reducing emissions, the ocean will not cool down right away since it has already absorbed so much heat. But that doesn't mean climate action won't make a difference.
"If we can reduce emissions, we can reduce the warming level, and then reduce the associated risks and losses," Cheng told CNN.
- 2019 Was the Second Hottest Year on Record - EcoWatch ›
- 2018 Was the Hottest Year Ever Recorded for Our Oceans - EcoWatch ›
- Oceans Likely to Heat up at Seven Times Their Current Rate, New Study Finds - EcoWatch ›
People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>