The ocean heat during 2019 was record-breaking according to a new study in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. In 2019, the oceans were warmer than any other measurement made in human history and this mainly concerns the stretch from the surface to a depth of 2000 meters.

The study, produced by an international team, shows that the global temperature of the oceans is not simply increasing but is even accelerating. In fact, the temperature of the oceans during 2019 was 0.075 °C above the average between 1981 and 2010.

In 2019 alone, on average, the world’s oceans absorbed an amount of heat equivalent to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atomic bomb explosions: this is the comparison made by Lijing Cheng, principal author of the study, to help us understand the absorption of heat, calculated in 228 sextillion joules, by the oceans in 2019.

“This measured ocean warming is irrefutable and is further evidence of global warming. There are no reasonable alternatives other than human gas emissions trapping heat to explain this warming,” says the researcher who is an associate professor at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The researchers have analyzed heat trends in the global oceans since the 1950s. Among the data are also those recorded by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

According to John Abraham, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at St. Thomas University in the United States, another author of the study, the oceans are the place where the vast majority of the heat produced outside of it goes: “If you want to understand global warming, you have to measure the warming of the oceans.”

The effects of warming the oceans at these levels are already being felt through extreme weather conditions that go beyond the sea level rise itself and manifest themselves in hurricanes and storms that can, in turn, lead to very serious damage even in economic terms. And according to Abraham, these effects would only be the “tip of the iceberg” because the situation is getting worse.

Julie Smith

I am a journalist with extensive experience working with different organizations in Kentucky, starting out as an editor with The Paducah Sun and later joining The Louisville Times. I am very happy to have joined Elakhbary News as a volunteer contributor, and submit research and content during my spare time. I am a long term subscriber to Nature and Scientific American, and frequently read up on new scientific research.

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Julie Smith