The world’s oceans set a temperature record in the past week, with their surface hitting 20.96 degrees Celsius (69.7 Fahrenheit), European Union climate observatory data showed yesterday.
Ocean surface temperature reached 20.96C on July 30, according to the ERA5 database, while the previous record was 20.95C in March 2016, a spokeswoman told AFP.
The samples tested excluded polar regions. Oceans have absorbed 90 percent of the excess heat produced by human activity since the dawn of the industrial age, according to scientists.
Globally, the average ocean temperature has been besting seasonal heat records on a regular basis since April.
“The ocean heatwave is an immediate threat to some marine life. We are already seeing coral bleaching in Florida as a direct result and I expect more impacts will surface,” said Piers Forster of the International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds.
Scientists are worried about the timing of this broken record. Dr Samantha Burgess, from the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said March should be when the oceans globally are warmest, not August, reports BBC.
“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 said.
“It is sobering to see this change happening so quickly,” said Prof Mike Burrows, who is monitoring impacts on Scottish sea shores with the Scottish Association for Marine Science.
Scientists are investigating why the oceans are so hot right now but say that climate change is making the seas warmer as they absorb most of the heating from greenhouse gas emissions.
The new average temperature record beats one set in 2016 when the naturally occurring climate fluctuation El Niño was in full swing and at its most powerful.
El Niño happens when warm water rises to the surface off the west coast of South America, pushing up global temperatures.