Warmest oceans ever recorded

November 14, 2014

"This summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started. Temperatures even exceed those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year," says Axel Timmermann, climate scientist and professor, studying variability of the global climate system at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

From 2000-2013 the global ocean surface temperature rise paused, in spite of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. This period, referred to as the Global Warming Hiatus, raised a lot of public and scientific interest. However, as of April 2014 ocean warming has picked up speed again, according to Timmermann's analysis of ocean temperature datasets.

"The 2014 global ocean warming is mostly due to the North Pacific, which has warmed far beyond any recorded value (Figure 1a) and has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and produced coral bleaching in the Hawaiian Islands," explains Timmermann.

He describes the events leading up to this upswing as follows: Sea-surface temperatures started to rise unusually quickly in the extratropical North Pacific already in January 2014. A few months later, in April and May, westerly winds pushed a huge amount of very warm water usually stored in the western Pacific along the equator to the eastern Pacific. This warm water has spread along the North American Pacific coast, releasing into the atmosphere enormous amounts of heat--heat that had been locked up in the Western tropical Pacific for nearly a decade.

"Record-breaking greenhouse gas concentrations and anomalously weak North Pacific summer trade winds, which usually cool the ocean surface, have contributed further to the rise in sea surface temperatures. The warm temperatures now extend in a wide swath from just north of Papua New Guinea to the Gulf of Alaska (Figure 1b)," says Timmermann.

The current record-breaking temperatures indicate that the 14-year-long pause in ocean warming has come to an end.
-end-


University of Hawaii ‑ SOEST

Related Ocean Warming Articles from Brightsurf:

Rivers melt Arctic ice, warming air and ocean
A new study shows that increased heat from Arctic rivers is melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean and warming the atmosphere.

Arctic Ocean sediments reveal permafrost thawing during past climate warming
Sea floor sediments of the Arctic Ocean can reveal how permafrost responds to climate warming.

Recent Atlantic ocean warming unprecedented in nearly 3,000 years
Sediments from a lake in the Canadian High Arctic allow climate scientists to extend the record of Atlantic sea-surface temperature from about 100 to 2,900 years.

Ocean warming and acidification effects on calcareous phytoplankton communities
A new study led by researchers from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) warns that the negative effects of rapid ocean warming on planktonic communities will be exacerbated by ocean acidification.

The ocean has become more stratified with global warming
A new study found that the global ocean has become more layered and resistant to vertical mixing as warming from the surface creates increasing stratification.

Warming ocean, old-forest loss put a squeeze on an elusive seabird
Squeezed by changing ocean conditions that limit their food options and the long-term loss of old forest needed for nesting, marbled murrelets would benefit most from conservation efforts that take both ocean and forest into account, new research shows.

'Wrong-way' migrations stop shellfish from escaping ocean warming
Ocean warming is paradoxically driving bottom-dwelling invertebrates -- including sea scallops, blue mussels, surfclams and quahogs that are valuable to the shellfish industry -- into warmer waters and threatening their survival, a Rutgers-led study shows.

Researchers identify human influence as key agent of ocean warming patterns in the future
Scientists from the Department of Physics at Oxford University have discovered that the influence of circulation changes on shaping ocean warming will diminish in the future.

The deep ocean is warming slowly -- but dramatic changes are ahead
The world's deep oceans are warming at a slower rate than the surface, but it's still not good news for deep-sea creatures according to an international study.

New study projects ocean warming impact on Antarctic krill
Ocean warming is likely to alter the distribution and lifecycle of ecologically and commercially important Antarctic krill over the rest of this century, according to new IMAS-led research.

Read More: Ocean Warming News and Ocean Warming Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.