The oceans of the world are warming up, their average temperatures pushed higher and higher each year by human-caused global warming. Every little bit of warming, however small, has enormous impacts on marine life, storm intensity, and more.
The average global sea surface temperature has increased about 1.5oF since 1901, an average rate of 0.13oF per decade.
As greenhouse gases trap more energy from the sun, the oceans are absorbing more heat, resulting in an increase in sea surface temperatures and rising sea level. Changes in ocean temperatures and currents brought about by climate change will lead to alterations in climate patterns around the world.
Over the past 100 years, global temperatures have risen about 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F), with sea level response to that warming totaling about 160 to 210 mm (with about half of that amount occurring since 1993), or about 6 to 8 inches.
Highlights. Earth's temperature has risen by an average of 0.14° Fahrenheit (0.08° Celsius) per decade since 1880, or about 2° F in total.
2023 is on pace to be the hottest, surpassing last year half a degree celsius, and the average by nearly one degree. Since mid-March, the world's oceans have been hotter than at anytime since at least 1982, raising concerns among some climate experts about accelerated warming.
Covering more than 70% of Earth's surface, our global ocean has a very high heat capacity. It has absorbed 90% of the warming that has occurred in recent decades due to increasing greenhouse gases, and the top few meters of the ocean store as much heat as Earth's entire atmosphere.
Earth's temperature has risen by an average of 0.14° Fahrenheit (0.08° Celsius) per decade since 1880, or about 2° F in total. The rate of warming since 1981 is more than twice as fast: 0.32° F (0.18° C) per decade.
Ninety percent of global warming is occurring in the ocean, causing the water's internal heat to increase since modern recordkeeping began in 1955, as shown in the upper chart. (The shaded blue region indicates the 95% margin of uncertainty.) This chart shows annual estimates for the first 2,000 meters of ocean depth.
Global mean sea level has risen about 8–9 inches (21–24 centimeters) since 1880. The rising water level is mostly due to a combination of melt water from glaciers and ice sheets and thermal expansion of seawater as it warms.
In response, average temperatures at the Earth's surface are increasing and are expected to continue rising. Because climate change can shift the wind patterns and ocean currents that drive the world's climate system, some areas are warming more than others, and some have experienced cooling.
Extra greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are the main reason that Earth is getting warmer. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane, trap the Sun's heat in Earth's atmosphere. It's normal for there to be some greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
They predict that in three decades, more than 100 million Americans will live in an “extreme heat belt” where at least one day a year, the heat index temperature will exceed 125° Fahrenheit (52° Celsius) — the top level of the National Weather Service's heat index, or the extreme danger level.
Global warming is causing global mean sea level to rise in two ways. First, glaciers and ice sheets worldwide are melting and adding water to the ocean. Second, the volume of the ocean is expanding as the water warms.
More than 93% of the excess heat energy from climate change is absorbed by the world's oceans, according to the IPCC. In 2022, the world's oceans absorbed 9 zetajoules of heat from the atmosphere.
The absorption of outgoing thermal infrared by carbon dioxide means that Earth still absorbs about 70 percent of the incoming solar energy, but an equivalent amount of heat is no longer leaving.
If the climate warms by another one degree Celsius, the atmosphere would be able to hold about 7% more water vapor. Most of that extra water vapor is going to come from the earth through increased evaporation and transpiration.
Scientists have determined that the ocean absorbs more than 90 percent of the excess heat, which is attributed to greenhouse gas emissions. The greater OHC coincides with increases in global average land and sea surface temperatures.
Is global warming real Scientific consensus is overwhelming: The planet is getting warmer, and humans are behind it. The climate is certainly changing.
Global sea levels are rising as a result of human-caused global warming, with recent rates being unprecedented over the past 2,500-plus years.
Is climate change getting better or worse If greenhouse gas emissions are increasing — which they are, according to NPR — then technically, climate change is getting worse. But before you lose hope and fall victim to climate doom, it's important to remember that our situation is still very complex.
According to NOAA's 2021 Annual Climate Report the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.14 degrees Fahrenheit ( 0.08 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase since 1981 has been more than twice as fast: 0.32 °F (0.18 °C) per decade.
Highlights. Earth's temperature has risen by an average of 0.14° Fahrenheit (0.08° Celsius) per decade since 1880, or about 2° F in total. The rate of warming since 1981 is more than twice as fast: 0.32° F (0.18° C) per decade.
Even after those first scorching millennia, however, the planet has often been much warmer than it is now. One of the warmest times was during the geologic period known as the Neoproterozoic, between 600 and 800 million years ago. Conditions were also frequently sweltering between 500 million and 250 million years ago.
The study, published Jan. 30 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides new evidence that global warming is on track to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial averages in the early 2030s, regardless of how much greenhouse gas emissions rise or fall in the coming decade.