Climate crisis – Ocean warming accelerates

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Our oceans are warming at the same rate as if five Hiroshima bombs were dropped in every second


Let that sink in: 5 atom bombs a second! The years 2015 – 19 have shown the warmest ocean temperatures recorded. A new report finds that: “Human-emitted greenhouse gases (GHGs) have resulted in a long-term and unequivocal warming of the planet (IPCC, 2019). More than 90% of the excess heat is stored within the worldโ€™s oceans, where it accumulates and causes increases in ocean temperature. Because the oceans are the main repository of the Earthโ€™s energy imbalance, measuring ocean heat content (OHC) is one of the best way to quantify the rate of global warming.”

Climate crisis and the dangerous effects of heat on our oceans

We really don’t know how this climate crisis will unfold if our oceans keep getting hotter at this rate, but here’s what could happen:

  1. The ice caps melt faster, leading to coastal flooding sooner than we feared.
  2. Melting ice caps reduce or stop the Gulf Stream, making Western Europe unbearably cold for half the year.
  3. Warmer oceans make wetter and more energetic weather systems. This can result in more frequent and more damaging weather events, from storms to hurricanes.
  4. Warmer oceans hold less oxygen and become more acidic. This can negatively affect all ocean life, from plankton to dolphins.
  5. A collapse in plankton could mean the end of all ocean life, bringing the extinction of humans a giant leap closer.

Learn more

Read the full report, Cheng et al, Advances In Atmospheric Sciences, 2020:

Read the Guardian report:

Read the CNN report:

Image credits

Starving polar bear by Andreas Weith:

Ocean temperatures from Chang et al report, link above.


Now you tell us!