NEWS & INSIGHTS

Oceans heat record broken, breaching 2016 record

The oceans have reached their highest-ever recorded temperature, as experts sound alarms on the record’s severe implications for the climate. 

The EU’s climate change service Copernicus said the average daily global sea surface temperature surpassed a 2016 record this week. 

It reached 20.96°C, which is significantly higher than the average for this time of year. 

“The water feels like a bath when you jump in,” says Dr Kathryn Lesneski, who is monitoring a marine heatwave in the Gulf of Mexico for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “There is widespread coral bleaching at shallow reefs in Florida and many corals have already died.” 

“We are putting oceans under more stress than we have done at any point in history,” says Dr Matt Frost, from the Plymouth Marine Lab in the UK, referring to the fact pollution and overfishing also change the oceans. 

Experts have also sounded warnings on the speed with which oceans have showed high temperatures this summer. 

March should be when the oceans globally are warmest, not August, Dr Samantha Burgess, from the Copernicus Climate Change Service said.  

“The fact that we’ve seen the record now makes me nervous about how much warmer the ocean may get between now and next March,” she says. 

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