Jan 12, 2022
Human-caused climate change continues to heat up the Earth’s oceans. The waters' temperatures rose last year to their hottest ever. It's the third straight year that ocean temperatures have hit record highs. Scientists reported the new data on Tuesday.
Warming sea waters are changing the planet. They are causing more severe storms. Hotter waters all add to extreme rainfall. That increases the risk of flooding. Warmer oceans also have begun melting Arctic ice sheets. They’re now losing 1 ton of ice per year. The loss of ice pushes up sea levels.
The effects of human activities registers most sharply in the oceans. “The ocean heat content is relentlessly increasing, globally, and this is a primary indicator of human-induced climate change,” said Kevin Trenberth, a scientist who worked on the new report.
Scientists say oceans soak up more than 90% of heat from a warming planet. Most of that happens in the top 6,500 feet. So, taking the temperature of the oceans provides a key measure of the rate of climate change. “The warming of the ocean has real consequences,” Trenberth said. He said ocean heat has made extreme weather even worse.
El Niño: Connections to Global Warming
In this activity, students will examine an article and videos that explain how warmer ocean temperatures that occur during an El Niño year cause extreme weather.
Interactive Exploration of Coral Bleaching
In this interactive video, students will learn about the symbiotic relationship between corals and zooxanthellae and how changes in ocean temperatures can cause corals to expel zooxanthellae resulting in coral bleaching.
This page on ocean warming presents interactive graphs of ocean heat content over time.