Oceans warming up faster than estimated; 2018 set to be the warmest year

Oceans around the world are warming up faster than estimated and 2018 could be the warmest year so far. India with 7,517km coastline is among the most vulnerable countries. The warming trends raise concern because the Indian Ocean plays a major role in driving weather patterns in the sub-continent, especially for monsoon rains.

  • New measurements, aided by an international network of 3,900 floats deployed in the oceans since 2000, showed more warming since 1971 than calculated by the latest UN assessment of climate change in 2013, scientists said.
  • Man-made greenhouse gas emissions are warming the atmosphere, according to the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, and a large part of the heat gets absorbed by the oceans.

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  • Almost 200 nations plan to phase out fossil fuels this century under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit warming. US President Donald Trump, who wants to promote U.S. fossil fuels, plans to pull out of the pact in 2020.

The new research published in Science magazine shows more consistent, but stronger ocean warming since 1960, than previously reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report published in 2013.

“While 2018 will be the fourth warmest year on record on the surface, it will most certainly be the warmest year on record in the oceans, as was 2017 and 2016 before that,” said co-author ZekeHausfather, from University of California, Berkeley.

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Man-made greenhouse gas emissions are warming the atmosphere, according to the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, and a large part of the heat gets absorbed by the oceans. That in turn is forcing fish to flee to cooler waters.

Overall, temperatures in the ocean down to 2,000 metres rose about 0.1 degree Celsius (0.18F) from 1971-2010. The 2013 U.N. assessment estimated slower rates of heat uptake but did not give a single comparable number.

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Ocean temperatures are less influenced by year-to-year variations in the weather. It can take more than 1,000 years for deep ocean temperatures to adjust to changes at the surface, Reuters said in its report.

The effects of oceans warming could be the reduction in oxygen in the oceans and damage to coral reefs that are nurseries for fish. Warmer seas release more moisture that can stoke more powerful storms.

Warmer ocean water also raises sea levels by melting ice, including around the edges of Antarctica and Greenland.

(With agency inputs)

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