‘Astounding’ ocean temperatures in 2023 intensified extreme weather, data shows

Record levels of heat were absorbed last year by Earth’s seas, which have been warming year-on-year for the past decade


Rising Ocean Temperatures Lead to Extreme Weather Events

New data has revealed that “astounding” ocean temperatures in 2023 intensified extreme weather events around the world. The oceans absorb 90% of the heat trapped by carbon emissions, making them a clear indicator of global heating. Scientists reported that record levels of heat were absorbed by the oceans in 2023, and the data showed that for the past decade, the oceans have been getting hotter each year.

The increase in ocean temperatures also led to higher levels of stratification, where warm water accumulates on the surface, reducing mixing with deeper waters. This reduction in mixing decreases oxygen levels in the oceans and limits the amount of carbon dioxide and heat the seas can absorb in the future.

Reliable ocean temperature measurements date back to 1940, but it is likely that the seas are now at their hottest in the past 1,000 years and heating up faster than in the previous 2,000 years.

Impact on Global Average Air Temperature

In addition to ocean temperatures, global average air temperature also rose significantly in 2023. However, air temperatures are more influenced by natural climate variations, such as the return of the El Niño phenomenon. The increase in average air temperature was driven by various factors, including human activities and natural climate patterns.

Prof. John Abraham, from the University of St Thomas, highlighted the importance of understanding ocean temperatures, as they provide crucial insights into global climate trends. Taking action to address the climate crisis is crucial in order to prevent further worsening of extreme weather events and their devastating consequences.

While the extraordinary temperatures in 2023 have raised concerns about the acceleration of global heating, current data shows a linear increase in temperature since 1995, without a statistically significant acceleration.

Impact on Marine Life and Future Consequences

The extreme ocean temperatures and increased stratification levels have severe consequences for marine life. Reduced oxygen levels in the oceans pose a threat to the survival of many species, and the increased frequency of marine heatwaves further disrupts ecosystems.

A separate report by the consortium Global Water Monitor highlighted the impact of warmer sea temperatures on cyclone behavior, leading to unexpected and deadly outcomes. It predicts that these extreme events will become more frequent in the future.

Addressing the climate crisis by transitioning away from fossil fuels is crucial in order to mitigate the impacts on both ocean and air temperatures, as well as to protect marine ecosystems and reduce the risks associated with extreme weather events.