scorecardThe world's oceans last month were warmer than any other May since the beginning of the 19th century
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The world's oceans last month were warmer than any other May since the beginning of the 19th century

The world's oceans last month were warmer than any other May since the beginning of the 19th century
SustainabilitySustainability2 min read
We've been frogs in gradually warming waters for a steaming while now, but conditions are quickly turning up to a boil. While most countries recorded a hotter-than-usual May this year, this metric might not be restricted to just land surface temperatures, it turns out.

As data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (the European Union's Earth observation programme) points out, global oceans were warmer last month than at any other time since at least the 19th century. This marks another notch on the excruciatingly longlist of records we wished we had never broken.

The report comes a mere month after April 2023 also broke all records for sea-surface temperature heat, exemplifying the tragically laser-fast development in the world's oceans.

According to the organisation, we've added 0.6°C of searing heat to the sea surface water in the past 40 years. While already deeply unfortunate, it gets worse. In just the three-decade period, May sea temperature at a depth of 10-metres this year was 0.25°C higher than that observed between 1991-2020.

Furthermore, we have another key player threatening to turn up the stove knob: El Niño. Since the warming climate phenomenon is all but confirmed (and likely to begin this month itself!), we're most likely losing another few crucial degrees to global ocean warming in the coming months and years.

While less than a degree might not seem like a lot, it's a slap in the gills to many marine organisms. Global warming is causing the ocean to acidify and warm at a pace that aquatic species cannot keep up with, and massive die-offs are already underway.

Considering half a billion people are severely dependent on marine ecosystems in one way or another, the incessant warming could also affect them severely. Furthermore, 90% of heat and a quarter of the CO2 we generate is absorbed by the oceans, acting as a mighty self-sacrificial punching bag against the torturesome climate change phenomenon, making protecting them crucial for human survival as well. The report should thus serve as a wake up call for countries worldwide to lessen their impact on the planet.

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