The world’s oceans, which have absorbed most of the excess heat caused by humanity’s carbon pollution, continued to see record-breaking temperatures last year, according to research.
Climate change has increased surface temperatures across the planet, leading to atmospheric instability and amplifying extreme weather events such as storms.
Oceans absorb about 90% of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions, shielding land surfaces but generating huge, long-lasting marine heat waves that are already having devastating effects on life underwater.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, found the five hottest years for the world’s oceans all happened in the past six years, and oceans are warming at a faster rate.
The researchers have examined temperatures from the ocean surface to about 6,500 feet deep going back to the 1950s.
Oceans are a good indicator of the impact of climate change because they are less affected by seasonal changes and day-to-day weather cycles than air temperatures.