2019 Was The Oceans’ Hottest Year On Record

Oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the extra heat generated by the burning of fossil fuels. Image: Unsplash/Marek Okon

By Olivia Rosane

The world’s oceans just had their warmest year on record.

A study published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences Monday found that ocean temperatures reached record highs in 2019, and this is not an anomaly: The past five years have also been the warmest for the oceans since reliable measurements began in the 1950s.

This is a big deal because the oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the extra heat generated by the burning of fossil fuels.

“The oceans are really what tells you how fast the Earth is warming,” study co-author and University of St. Thomas professor John Abraham told The Guardian. “Using the oceans, we see a continued, uninterrupted and accelerating warming rate of planet Earth. This is dire news.”

The oceans in 2019 were 0.075 degrees Celsius above the average for 1981 to 2010, according to a press release. This means they have absorbed 228,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules of heat.

“That’s a lot of zeros indeed,” lead author Lijing Cheng conceded in the press release. “To make it easier to understand, I did a calculation. The Hiroshima atom-bomb exploded with an energy of about 63,000,000,000,000 Joules. The amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions,” Cheng, who is an associate professor with the International Center for Climate and Environmental Sciences at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, explained. Read more…

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