The world’s oceans have reached their hottest-ever recorded temperature, hitting a staggering 20.96°C (69.72°F), according to data from the EU’s Copernicus programme.
The unprecedented rise in ocean temperatures is a direct consequence of climate change, primarily driven by human-made greenhouse gas emissions.
The ocean’s role in absorbing excess heat from the atmosphere has led to a steady increase in temperatures since the 1970s. This latest record surpasses the previous high set in March 2016 by a minuscule margin of 0.01°C.
As the Earth’s surface air temperatures also soar, the month of July 2023 is expected to become the hottest ever recorded, with multiple days consecutively breaking temperature records. Experts from the Copernicus climate change service and the World Meteorological Organisation attribute these extreme conditions to the relentless emissions of greenhouse gases.
The repercussions of this escalating heat are far-reaching. The warming oceans pose a threat to marine life, particularly delicate ecosystems like coral reefs. Coral reefs are experiencing widespread bleaching and damage as the warmer waters disrupt their delicate balance. Rising ocean temperatures also lead to increased evaporation, causing heavier rainfall and an elevated risk of flooding.
UN Chief Antonio Guterres starkly notes, “The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived.” This chilling statement underscores the urgency of addressing climate change and curbing emissions to prevent further catastrophic consequences.
With ocean temperatures breaking records and global temperatures following suit, the world faces an increasingly precarious future.