Scientists look in amazement at graphs showing the average global temperature of sea water at the surface. This is because our oceans have reached a new record temperature of 21.1 degrees Celsius. This breaks the previous record of 21.09°C, which was set just a few months ago in August 2023. But what is causing these unprecedented temperatures? What are the consequences?
March 13, 2023 Combined, Earth’s ocean temperatures reach a record high for this time of year. A trend that continued throughout the rest of the year. In other words, every day since March 13, we have been setting a new daily record for global average sea surface temperature.
The absolute record was set between August 23 and 25, 2023. The highest sea surface temperature of 2023, and the highest in more than 40 years, was 21.09°C at that time. But this record did not last long. On January 31 and February 1, observations showed an average temperature of 21.1°C. It is also questionable whether the record will be broken in the coming days and weeks due to further warming.
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What is the reason for this record?
The exceptionally high temperatures are due to a combination of different factors. First, El Niño is still active at the moment, which is causing generally higher sea surface temperatures around the world, especially in the Pacific Ocean. In addition, climate change is contributing to a gradual warming of seawater over the long term. The Earth’s oceans absorb the increasing heat in the atmosphere with some delay, leading to a steady increase in average temperature.
What are the consequences?
Warmer seawater can provide additional energy to storms, which could make them more intense if other factors are also favourable. In general, warmer seawater causes more extreme weather events, especially in terms of precipitation. But the moderating influence of the oceans on climate also decreases as temperature rises. Warmer seawater could also accelerate the loss of polar ice, as excess heat can flow into the Arctic and Antarctic regions via ocean currents. In addition, rising seawater temperatures reduce food availability, which may lead to widespread fish kills.
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