The oceans have heated up to record levels: their heat is enough to boil billions of Olympic-sized swimming pools

By TravelWiseFeb 2, 2024 15:13 PMNews
Oceans have become record warm
Oceans have become record warm. Source: Freepik

A 2023 study in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences found that the world's oceans have absorbed enough "excess heat" to boil billions of Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Studies have shown that both the sea surface temperature and the energy stored in the upper 2000 meters of the ocean are setting unprecedented records. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Chinese Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) estimate that the oceans have absorbed about 9-15 zettajoules more than in 2022, News Bytes writes.

The oceans have heated up to record levels: their heat is enough to boil billions of Olympic-sized swimming pools
The oceans have heated up to record levels: their heat is enough to boil billions of Olympic-sized swimming pools. Source: Freepik

Impacts on weather patterns and climate

This increase in heat absorption by the ocean has a major impact on weather patterns and climate.

As the oceans become warmer, more heat and moisture is released into the atmosphere, causing unpredictable weather with strong winds and heavy rainfall.

The study also notes that some of the heat stored in the oceans contributed to record heat waves, droughts, and wildfires in 2023.

Ocean salinity reaches historic high

The report also found that ocean salinity has reached its highest level on record, causing a process called "stratification" where water separates into layers that no longer mix.

This affects the oxygen, carbon and heat exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere, leading to a loss of oxygen in the ocean. The opposite weather phenomenon, El Niño, contributes to the cooling of the ocean surface.

El Niño, which is currently in effect, is expected to peak in 2024, causing even more ocean heat.

Human activity is also a key factor

According to the study, covering 70% of the Earth's surface, the oceans have absorbed 90% of the excess heat generated by human activity and carbon pollution since the industrial era. The burning of fossil fuels leads to global warming, which in turn leads to rising sea surface temperatures.

In 2023, sea temperatures in Florida exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit

According to reports, in 2023, the water off the coast of Florida was unusually hot, exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) for two consecutive days.

The results raised doubts as to whether this was the hottest seawater ever recorded.

Separately, the scientists noted that the sea surface temperature anomalies on August 21, 2023 were more than 3°C (5.4°F) higher than usual in the Pacific Ocean.

Ways to overcome ocean warming

One of the most important solutions to help the oceans cool is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Paris Agreement, we must reduce annual carbon emissions by one to two million tons to make this happen.

It also emphasizes that the world must control human activity.

Some of the damaged ecosystems can be restored if ecologists can use assisted breeding techniques or create artificial habitats.

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