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Unprecedented Ocean Warming Spells Trouble for the Earth: Worries Spike over Sudden Rise in Temperature

by Joshua Brown
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Recently, the temperature of the oceans all around us has increased dramatically above average. Scientists are trying to understand why this has happened and whether it means that we’ll be getting hotter air in the future too.

Scientists think that the higher temperatures in our oceans may be from a natural weather effect called El Nino, combined with three years of cooler temperatures caused by La Nina, plus the usual global warming. They believe this might lead to a series of record-breaking temperature records in our oceans this month.

From the beginning of March till this week, the temperature on the surface of ocean water around the world rose almost two-tenths of one degree Celsius (0.36 degrees Fahrenheit). That doesn’t sound like a lot, but scientists at the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer say it is unusual and big surprise because this happened to 71% of Earth’s area in such a short time! The University of Colorado climate scientist Kris Karnauskas said it was “incredible” that there would be such a warm shift from where we started out.

Climate scientists have been discussing the rising temperatures on social media and amongst each other. For example, Michael Mann from the University of Pennsylvania doesn’t think we need to worry about it because he believes it’s just a normal El Nino event combined with usual human-caused temperature rises.

The Pacific Ocean near Peru and Ecuador has been getting warmer over the past few decades. This much-needed heat is called El Nino. Since El Nino often changes our global weather, it can cause temperatures to rise around the world.Recently though, we have experienced something different: something that results in cooling instead of heating up! It’s called La Nina and it has lasted for an extra-long time – three years in a row – which causes extreme weather everywhere.

Some scientists, like Gregory C. Johnson from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), think that ocean warming in places like Alaska and Spain might not be only caused by El Nino. There are some hot spots in the Pacific near Alaska and off the coast of Spain that don’t follow a usual El Nino pattern.

Gabe Vecchi, a climate scientist from Princeton University, says that something weird is going on in the world and it can’t just be explained by El Nino. He adds that this event happening is humongous, so it needs us to do research to understand what’s actually happening.

Some scientists from the University of Colorado looked at ocean temperatures around the world for the past few weeks and compared it to the normal temperature. Then, they found that an area stretching across the equator from South America to Africa is making a big contribution to overall warming. This area includes both the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean.

In just 10 to 14 days, that area heated up by 0.4 degrees Celsius which is really unusual. Part of it seems to be an El Nino, and scientists could tell in the upcoming months that it’s becoming stronger. In the Indian Ocean area this might just be a coincidence or maybe related to the El Nino.

“It’s already quite warm out there in the ocean, especially around the tropics. But with an El Nino coming up, it’s going to get even hotter than ever before – like off the charts hot,” said Mr. Karnauskas.

It’s been 7 years since the last big El Nino event happened. During this time, our planet has been getting warmer, especially in the deep ocean where most of the heat from greenhouse gases goes. The power stored by the deep ocean is higher each year, no matter what is happening on land at the same time.

Since that last El Nino, the temperature of our Earth’s oceans has gotten .04 degrees Celsius (.07 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter. That small increase might not sound like much, but it is actually a huge amount of energy – it’s almost as powerful as hundreds of millions of atomic bombs – the same kind which badly damaged Hiroshima during World War 2.

The deep ocean below us was getting warmer and warmer, but something weird happened for the last three years causing the temperature on the surface to be unusually cold. That unusual coolness acted like a lid on a boiling pot. But now, that lid has been taken off! A scientist at NOAA, Mike McPhaden said that in March 2021 it was the second warmest March since records have been kept.

Scientists are predicting that this year, we might see something called El Nino, which could make global temperatures even hotter than before. It will start off slowly, but the warming may speed up over time. To stay up-to-date with climate and environment news around the world, you can visit a website called https://bigbignews.net/climate-and-environment and follow @borenbears on Twitter.

Financial help for the Associated Press’ climate and environmental news stories is coming from several helpful foundations. Find out more about this AP initiative right here. The content of these stories is completely handled by the Associated Press team.

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