In 2023, the world’s oceans will be hotter than ever, especially the Pacific Ocean.
For four months in a row, the surface waters of the oceans were nearly 1 degree Celsius (1.78 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal.
Why is this happening?
NASA scientists think they have the answer: a climate event called El Niño and long-term global warming.
Josh Willis, an ocean expert at NASA, said El Niño, a climate pattern that’s heating the Pacific Ocean, is making the ocean even warmer on top of global warming that’s been happening for a century.
That means warm seawater isn’t a one-time thing; It’s part of a larger pattern that we’ve been observing for a long time.
Maps show that on August 21, 2023, the ocean was over 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal in many places. These include the Pacific Ocean near Japan, and California and Oregon in the United States.
The Indian, Southern and Arctic Oceans were also unusually warm.
This data comes from a special project that combines measurements from different sources such as satellites and ships. Gavin Schmidt, who heads NASA’s Climate Research Institute, said this long-term warming is mostly due to human activities.
Since factories and cars became common, we emit many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and as a result, the earth, including the oceans, is getting warmer.
Scientists have said that 90% of the extra heat caused by greenhouse gases ends up in the ocean. This year, El Niño in the Pacific made things worse.
The April heat jump coincides with the time when the Pacific began to warm and sea levels began to rise. What’s happening in the Pacific is extremely important because it’s so big – it covers about half the world’s ocean surface.
Heat waves in the sea are not good news. In August, almost half of the world’s oceans experienced a so-called marine heat wave.
This can harm marine life and alter the weather. These heat waves can last for weeks and are determined by weather conditions.
However, El Niño-induced heat in the Pacific is expected to last longer, possibly well into winter.
NOAA forecasters estimate there is a 95% chance that El Niño will last all winter, affecting global weather patterns and making the oceans even warmer. Scientists are using tools like sensors and satellites to keep track of this because it could have major consequences for our climate and our lives.
So next time you hear about record heat, remember it’s not just about hot days on land. Our oceans are also warming, and we need to be mindful of that for the good of the planet.
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