The planet’s ocean’s temperature rose to a third consecutive record last year , a high that many oceanographers and scientists indicate as a huge factor of a warming world and accelerator of extreme weather conditions. A study published in the Advances of Atmospheric Sciences, stated that the captured temperature was the highest level found since record keeping began in 1958. The published study followed a report released by Copernicus that found that the past eight years were the hottest recorded in history.
Data found within the study reveals that the top 2,000 meters of the ocean's surface has risen 10 zettajoules of heat between 2021 to 2022, which is equivalent to 100 times the world’s generated electricity in 2021. A zetta is a measurement of heat used by scientists when conducting studies within the ocean, the average temperature has become so hot that they have to expand to zettajoules to receive a proper reading.
Humans and human activity emit large amounts of greenhouse gasses, far too many for the Earth’s atmosphere to absorb, creating an energy imbalance. The trapped gas then travels back down heating the surfaces below, in turn rising average surface temperatures. The excess solar energy released from above, about 93%, ends up enveloping the ocean, causing peak records, significant marine life damage, and a strong decrease in water quality. The rest of the non-absorbed energy is reflected back into the atmosphere, continuing the cycle. The domino effect of rising heat has been slowly affecting the ocean’s ecosystems for years now.
“The long-term trends are very clear. They are not due to natural variation. They are not due to the sun. They are not due to volcanoes. They are due to our emissions of greenhouse gasses and as long as we continue to emit large amounts of greenhouse gasses, these trends will continue,” stated Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies Gavin Schmidt, in a Wall Street Journal report.
Providing a clear picture of how far the world is warming, marine temperatures within the epipelagic zone, the top 200 meters, have now stored as much heat as the atmosphere, hindering its ability to regulate planetary temperatures. These catastrophic rises result in severe weather changes and disasters such as – hurricanes, typhoons, tornados, atmospheric rivers, and extreme rainstorms. Rainstorms like the one California has been victim to for the past month.
Expanding heat also travels to below zero climates, like the Arctic and Antarctica, slowly causing the ice to melt in turn increasing the sea levels by 40%. This phenomenon is called thermal expansion, resulting in the disappearance in polar ice caps and causing erosion, flooding, and loss of wetlands and marshes due to full encompassment.
The rising global temperature has been somewhat subdued by the three year La Niña, which causes unusually cold temperatures within the ocean. But, a cold front is always met with a warm one, the return of a El Niño will ultimately increase the temperatures tenfold.