BEIJING — 2021 saw the hottest ocean temperatures ever recorded, adding to previous records in 2018 and 2019, according to an Advances in Atmospheric Sciences study cited by The Guardian.
Greenhouse gases released by humans are responsible for the rises, with more than 90 percent of heat generated by global warming absorbed by the oceans.” Temperatures taken at least 2,000 meters deep are increasing fastest in the Atlantic, Indian and northern Pacific Oceans, but are rising everywhere relative to a 1981 to 2010 baseline.
In 2021 alone, oceans heated by around 14 zettajoules, equivalent to 440 billion toasters running — or seven Hiroshima bombs detonating — every second for a year.
As oceans warm in this way, they threaten sea life, make cyclones and hurricanes more powerful and cause rains to fall harder.
The process also directly causes sea level rises because as water warms it expands.
The study cited climate model simulations as evidence that the increase in human-made greenhouse gas emissions is responsible for the trend and study co-author Michael Mann added that ‘until we reach net zero emissions, that heating will continue, and we’ll continue to break ocean heat content records.
Hammering home the point, the study also notes that the extent of the heating last year was such that even an ongoing La Nina event, a regular feature of the climate that cools waters in the Pacific, was not enough to see it buck the warming trend.
The Guardian completes the story of this ongoing disaster by pointing out that the effects of such dramatic warming are also responsible for a vicious chain reaction, whereby heated ocean water expands and ‘eats away’ at the massive Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which are shedding around 1 trillion tons of ice per year, and that in turn fuels more sea level rise.