Record-Breaking Ocean Temperatures Rising Faster than Expected

Latest 2018 data shows warming waters are harming marine life and stoking stronger storms.

Humanity will finally touch the deepest corners of the world's oceans
Getty Images/EyeEm

New ocean temperature measurements indicate that the Earth’s largest bodies of water are warming even faster than scientists once believed.

The findings—drawn from a series of 3,900 floating temperature probes—showed greater warming than was previously calculated by the last U.N. assessment of climate change in 2013, Reuters reported.

“Observational records of ocean heat content show that ocean warming is accelerating,” the scientists in China and the United States wrote. “Global warming is here, and has major consequences already. There is no doubt, none!”

Extra warmth can reduce oxygen in the oceans and damage coral reefs that are nurseries for fish, the scientists said. Warmer seas also contain more energy, which can be released as more moisture, fueling more powerful storms.

Almost 200 nations plan to phase out fossil fuels this century under the 2015 Paris climate agreement. However, President Trump, who wants to promote U.S. fossil fuels instead, plans to pull out of the pact in 2020, Reuters noted.

Data from this most recent analysis will show “2018 was the warmest year on record for the global ocean, surpassing 2017,” lead author Lijing Cheng, of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.

Ocean temperature records have been broken nearly every year since 2000, Cheng added.

A separate study on Monday, by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, said 2018 was the fourth warmest year for global surface temperatures in records dating back to the 19th century.

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