Data has revealed that the ocean temperatures in 2023 were remarkably high, leading to an increase in extreme weather conditions.
New data has shown that in 2023, extremely high ocean temperatures caused unusual weather patterns globally, as the effects of the climate crisis grew more severe.
The oceans absorb 90% of the heat trapped by the carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, making it the clearest indicator of global heating. Record levels of heat were taken up by the oceans in 2023, scientists said, and the data showed that for the past decade the oceans have been hotter every year than the year before.
The high temperatures caused an increase in stratification within the oceans, causing warm surface water to collect and limit mixing with deeper waters. This decrease in mixing results in lower levels of oxygen in the oceans, posing a threat to marine life. Additionally, it also decreases the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide and heat in the future.
Ocean temperature data has been consistently recorded since 1940, and it is probable that the oceans are currently experiencing their highest temperatures in the last 1,000 years. Furthermore, they are warming at a faster rate than any other period in the past 2,000 years.
In 2023, the primary indicator of the climate emergency, the global average air temperature, experienced a significant increase. However, air temperatures are influenced by natural fluctuations in the climate, such as the reemergence of the warming El Niño phenomenon last year.
According to Professor John Abraham from the University of St Thomas in Minnesota, the ocean holds valuable information about the state of our world and the data gathered consistently shows a concerning trend of increasing temperatures over the years.
The speaker warned that we are currently experiencing negative effects and they will only worsen if we do not act. However, he believes that we have the ability to address this issue through the use of wind, solar, hydro power, and energy conservation. This realization can empower us to create a new energy economy that not only benefits our wallets, but also the environment.
The abnormally high temperatures in 2023 sparked speculation about the pace of global warming. However, Abraham stated that there is currently no evidence of a statistically significant increase in this rate. Currently, the trend appears to be a steady, linear rise since 1995.
A recent research, published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, utilized temperature readings from various devices in the oceans to calculate the amount of heat in the top 2,000 meters, where the majority of heat absorption occurs, as well as the temperatures at the sea surface.
In 2023, the oceans absorbed an extra 15 zettajoules of heat compared to the previous year, 2022. To put this into perspective, the entire global economy uses approximately half a zettajoule of energy annually. Overall, the oceans took in a total of 287 zettajoules in 2023.
The numbers are derived from information collected by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Another set of data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revealed a comparable rise and consistent pattern over the years.
According to researchers, the ocean surface temperatures reached unprecedented levels in 2023 due to a combination of record-breaking carbon emissions and assistance from El Niño. While the average temperature for the entire year was only 0.1C higher than 2022, the second half of 2023 saw a dramatic rise of 0.3C.
The experts warned that the increased stratification and oxygen depletion in the ocean would have significant impacts on marine flora and fauna. In 2023, there were widespread marine heatwaves occurring in various oceans.
An independent study conducted by the organization Global Water Monitor (GWM) revealed that several major catastrophes in 2023 were caused by abnormally powerful cyclones, resulting in heavy precipitation in Mozambique, Malawi, Myanmar, Greece, Libya, New Zealand, and Australia.
Professor Albert Van Dijk from GWM stated that they observed cyclones behaving in unforeseen and dangerous manners. The most long-lasting cyclone on record caused significant damage to south-eastern Africa over the course of several weeks. The unusual behaviors were fueled by warmer sea temperatures, and it is likely that we will witness more of these extreme occurrences in the future.
Abraham emphasized the urgent need to stop burning coal, oil and gas: “If we do not change the course of climate change, we will face increasingly severe weather, disruptions in our climate, an influx of climate refugees, and a decrease in agricultural productivity. We will also incur financial and human costs from a problem that could have been prevented. And unfortunately, those who are least responsible will bear the brunt of these consequences, which is a grave injustice.”