Coming from scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, a new study published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, announced that the oceans in 2017 were warmest in recorded history.
The findings indicate a “long-term warming trend driven by human activities.”
The news continues to paint a very dim picture of the future of sea life as research has shown the warming waters will cause serious problems with the survival of many species.
The scientists looked at ocean temperature data that researchers from various institutions, including NOAA in the U.S., began collecting in the 1950s. Starting in the late 1990s, ocean temperatures began to take off.
The study showed that in 2017, the oceans were 1.51 × 1022 Joules warmer than in 2015, which was previously the warmest year for the oceans on record. Ocean temperatures in 2016, were lower than in 2015 and 2017 because of a huge El Niño weather event that cooled waters.
The warming waters were seen in almost all the world with the Atlantic and Southern Oceans being more affected than the Indian and Pacific.
In their study, researchers identified coral bleaching and melting sea ice as the biggest victims of the warming oceans.
Coral bleaching occurs when corals are stressed by heat, light, or pollution and causes them to expel the symbiotic algae they need to be healthy. Without them, corals can starve.
Coral reefs are often called the rain forests of the ocean as the reefs sustain an endless amount of species including millions of fish, sharks, turtles, crustaceans, jellyfish and many more. As the coral starts to die, so does the entire reef including all species that called it home. .
The researchers also called attention to the declining ocean oxygen as a potential impact from warming waters. Earlier this month, a new study found that some fish are avoiding certain parts of oxygen-depleted ocean because the waters are essentially suffocating them.
Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane have been credited with driving warming temperatures, by trapping more heat closer to the Earth’s surface. One study published in 2016 found that for every ton of CO2 not emitted, 32 square feet of Arctic ice could be saved. There is still hope as there is a way for us to try and turn around the downward trend. By reducing our energy consumption and investing in renewable energy, we can slow down the warming and protect our oceans and our planet.