January 16th, 2020
Last year was the warmest year for the ocean in all of human history, according to a new study.
Research from the
Institute of Atmospheric Physics also found that the past five years produced
the warmest ocean temperatures on record.
The Atlantic Ocean has
absorbed a large amount of heat, while the Southern Ocean that encircles
Antarctica has taken up “most of the global warming heat” since 1970, the study
Marine heatwave events were also found in the Mediterranean Sea and continue to pose a significant risk to marine biodiversity and fisheries, the study adds.
The ocean’s climate
and biodiversity link
Oceans act as the globe’s
main repository of energy imbalance, absorbing up to 90 per cent of excess heat
created. Any remaining heating effect from greenhouse gas emissions is known as
atmospheric warming that affects land mass and surface ice.
temperatures have influence higher sea levels that are predicted to rise by up to 30 to 60 cm by 2100 even if countries adhered to
their Paris Agreement goals.
Oceanic warming is
expected to continue even if the global mean surface air temperature stays
below 2 C within the century, the study warns.
Panel on Climate Change warns that this figure could be anywhere from 60 to 110
cm if emissions continue to rise unabated.
Storms also intensify
with higher oceanic temperatures. A spike in temperature increases the
evaporation of water and adds more moisture to a warmer atmosphere. As a
result, the planet will continue to see heavier rains and more flooding.
Higher temperatures also reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in the ocean and as a result endanger marine biodiversity.
A Blue New Deal
Many activists and
politicians are calling for a “Blue New Deal” in order to address the rising
ocean temperatures and protect coastal communities through policy support for the
likes of sustainable fisheries and sea-generated renewable energy. Over 680
million people live in vulnerable, low-lying coastal zones, as well as 65
million people in small island developing states.
candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren released a plan
last month for a Blue New Deal that would expand
renewable energy generation to coastal areas and promote regenerative ocean
farming through algae and seaweed production.
“While the ocean is
severely threatened, it can also be a major part of the climate solution – from
providing new sources of clean energy to supporting a new future of ocean
farming,” Ms Warren said.
“That is why I believe that a Blue New Deal must be an essential part of any Green New Deal – helping us fight climate change, protecting our health, and creating good, high-wage union jobs in the process,” she added.