The World’s Oceans Are Now Hotter Than At Any Point in Human History


The world’s oceans were warmer in 2019 than at any other point in recorded human history, a study has found. Scientists leading the Record-Setting Ocean Warmth study found that the oceans’ warmest 10 years on record were all measured in the past decade.

Last year’s ocean temperature was about 0.075°C above the average recorded from 1981-2010.

Lead author Lijing Cheng said to reach this temperature, the ocean would have taken in 228 sextillion Joules of heat – that’s 228,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.


He said: ‘The amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions.

‘This measured ocean warming is irrefutable and is further proof of global warming.

‘There are no reasonable alternatives aside from the human emissions of heat trapping gases to explain this heating.’


The research, conducted by a team of climate and ocean scientists from around the world and published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, found that the heating was distributed throughout the world’s oceans, however the Atlantic Ocean and Southern Ocean had absorbed the most heat.

Deadly flooding in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta hit as residents celebrated the new year – extreme weather events are made more likely by global warming (Picture: AP)

It also found that the rate of warming over the 1987 to 2019 period was four-and-a-half times that recorded between 1955 to 1986, reflecting a major increase in the rate of global climate change.


Co-author John Abraham said: ‘It is critical to understand how fast things are changing.

A before and after photo of coral bleaching and later dying in March – May 2016, at Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef (Photo courtesy of XL Catlin Seaview Survey, The Ocean Agency)

‘The key to answering this question is in the oceans – that’s where the vast majority of heat ends up.

‘If you want to understand global warming, you have to measure ocean warming.’


Warmer ocean temperatures lead to increased evaporation, which in turn contributes to more extreme weather events across the globe, such as flooding, hurricanes and the wildfires we are currently seeing across Australia.

Global heating has led to an increase in catastrophic fires in the Amazon, California and Australia in 2019 and 2020 (Picture: EPA)

Dr Cheng said: ‘The global heating has led to an increase in catastrophic fires in the Amazon, California and Australia in 2019, and we’re seeing that continue into 2020.’


The researchers warn that the ocean warming trend is so severe that it will persist in the immediate future even if the global community meets its Paris Agreement targets.

There is only one way to help reduce ocean temperatures, Dr Cheng said.

‘The more we reduce greenhouse gases, the less the ocean will warm. ‘Reduce, reuse and recycle and transferring to a clean energy society are still the major way forward.’

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This article first appeared on Metro.

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