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  • Writer's pictureSophia Wang

Hottest Oceans Ever

For the past year, every day has broken records in the world’s sea surface temperatures at concerning margins to previous years. Average sea surface temperatures are now about 1.25 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the temperatures from 1982-2011, an alarming statistic that could significantly impact weather and the environment, bleaching coral, generating more intense and faster-developing hurricanes, increasing coastal temperatures, and making extreme precipitation more likely. On the other hand, average air temperatures are roughly 1.8 F higher from 1979-2000, but water can better store heat, meaning the ocean wasn’t expected to warm this much in such a short period of time.

While human-caused climate change is playing a role, it’s not the only factor, since the rise is happening so rapidly. As of now, scientists aren’t completely sure why temperatures have climbed. Some suspect that the rise is a result of both climate change and natural ocean processes, while others pointed to El Nino, which has recently begun to dissipate, disproving this theory, and the weakening of trade winds in the North Atlantic.

This warming poses a threat by increasing the intensity and developmental speed of natural disasters, and severely bleaching coral. While this is a pressing issue to be solved, ocean scientists have recognized that they have not concluded on a solution to what is causing the increase in temperature.

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