BEIJING — The world’s oceans hit their highest temperature on record in 2019, and the rate at which they are warming is speeding up, a new study showed Tuesday.
The ocean temperature last year was about 0.075 degrees Celsius above the 1981-2010 average, according to a study published in the Chinese journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
Scientists calculated that, in order to reach this temperature, the ocean would have taken in 228 sextillion jules, about 3.6 billion times the amount of heat released by the Hiroshima bombings.
“This measured ocean warming is irrefutable and is further proof of global warming,” said Cheng Lijing, the paper’s lead author and associate professor at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“There are no reasonable alternatives aside from the human emissions of heat trapping gases to explain this heating,” Cheng said.
Researchers also compared data from 1987 to 2019 with the period between 1955 and 1986. They found that, during the past six decades, the most recent warming was about 450 percent higher than the earlier warming, suggesting a major increase in the rate of global climate change.
“It is critical to understand how fast things are changing,” said John Abraham, co-author and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of St. Thomas in the United States. “And this is just the tip of the iceberg for what is to come.”
Ocean warming can cause marine heatwaves, which can lead to major loss of marine life and the creation of hurricanes, scientists said.
According to the researchers, people can work to reverse their effect on the climate, but the ocean will take longer to respond than atmospheric and land environments. Since 1970, more than 90 percent of global warming heat has gone into the ocean, while less than 4 percent went into the land and atmosphere.