Scientists Confirm Ocean Warming is "Primarily" Human-Caused
A new study published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences showed that in 2021, Earth's oceans reached the highest temperatures in recorded history. This is the sixth consecutive year ocean that heat records have been shattered, and scientists say it is primarily human-caused. For the Guardian, John Abraham, a researcher on the study, writes:
The measurements, taken at least 2,000 meters (about 6,500ft) deep and spread across the globe, paint a clear picture: the Earth is warming, humans are the culprit, and the warming will continue indefinitely until we collectively take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Why This Matters
Oceans are the Earth's largest carbon sinks and according to Abraham, "more than 90% of global warming heat ends up in the oceans." Warming oceans pose a threat to biodiversity and escalate the severity of extreme weather events, including hurricanes. And because the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are melting increasingly fast, sea level rise is placing more communities at risk of severe flooding.
PBS: Melting of the Thwaites Glacier could rewrite the global coastline, December 15, 2021.
Global Problem, Global Solutions
Compared with the previous year, the study found that the amount of extra energy absorbed by the ocean in 2021 was "145 times greater than the world's entire electricity generation." Research also indicated that warming is not entirely uniform. Due to human carbon emission patterns, the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Northern Pacific Ocean are warming most rapidly.
In the words of Michael Mann, another researcher on the study, "until we reach net-zero emissions, that heating will continue, and we'll continue to break heat content records, as we did this year." When it comes to tackling the climate crisis most effectively, Mann states, "Better awareness and understanding of the oceans are a basis for the actions to combat climate change."
MSNBC: 'Doomsday Glacier' - Experts Raise Alarms About Cracking Antarctic Ice Shelf, December 30, 2021.