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oceans experience nearly two months of record temperatures;  Find out what is known about the phenomenon |  environment

oceans experience nearly two months of record temperatures; Find out what is known about the phenomenon | environment

Swimmers at Agua Dulce Beach in Lima, Peru. — Photo: AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File

The world’s oceans a temperature record of surface waters since March. The latest measurements reached a temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, which is a figure – at least – 0.2 degrees Celsius higher than that achieved in previous periods.

Since March 13, the average global ocean temperature has exceeded the values ​​of all annual measurements since the 1980s.

measurements obtained in the past 57 days It is the largest in the historical series.

📈 context: On April 24, the global average sea surface temperature exceeded approx One-tenth of a degree Celsius (0.2°C) compared to the same date in 2016 (the hottest year so far).

The data is from the University of Maine Climate Analyzer, which is a climate and meteorological data platform widely used by researchers in the field. (See chart below).

This may seem like a minuscule amount, but for the average world’s oceans – which occupy 71% of the Earth’s surface – to increase by that amount in such a short time “is huge”, explains climate scientist Chris Karnauskas, of the University of Colorado in the US.

Ocean temperatures – Image: Arte/g1

What do you know about the reasons for the increase?

🌡 Possible hypotheses for the record: Some researchers believe that this jump in ocean temperatures is related to the following factors:

  • development ‘El Nino’ This year is likely to take this to a new peak in global warming and raise the odds of temperature records around the world;
  • The fact that the no nina It is also coming to an end, and as a result, the oceans are recovering from the three years of cooling caused by this phenomenon, which naturally lowers the surface temperature of Pacific waters.
  • And above all, we have a hard impact Global Warming human-caused, which is heating the deepest waters of our seas.
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What is a file El Nino And what is your influence on that?

🌊 First of all, we need to understand that the El Niño is caused by a slowdown in the trade winds, which blows in a westerly direction near the equator. Where there is nothing to transfer heat towards the Indian Ocean, the Pacific waters cook in the sun, without moving much, and end up much warmer.

With that said, the northern and northeastern regions here in Brazil, for example, tend to get less rain during an El Niño event, while it rains more frequently in the south.

Another feature of the phenomenon in the country is the high temperatures in winter in the southeast and in the second half of the year in the midwest.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) estimates that there is a 60% chance of an El Niño by the end of July.

Therefore, some climatologists dismiss concerns surrounding this sudden increase and claim that it is the result of a higher El Niño accompanied by a steady increase in human-caused warming.

➡️ An important factor for this thesis is that this warming of the oceans was seen in particular off the coasts of Peru and Ecuador, where most of the El Niño events began prior to the 1980s.

“This is an unusual pattern. This is an extreme event on a global scale in regions that are not well suited to the influence of El Niño,” said Gabe Vicki, a climatologist at Princeton University in the US.

“That’s a big sign. I think it’s going to take us some effort to really understand it.”

where it heats up the most

Karnauskas also analyzed some of the global sea surface temperature anomalies in an effort to understand which regions were responsible for much of the global warming.

In doing so, he found a long stretch of the equator from South America to Africa, which included the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The temperature of this area rose by four-tenths of a degree Celsius in about 10 to 14 days, which is unusual, says the researcher.

In March, sea surface temperatures off the east coast of North America were 13.8°C higher than the 30-year average from 1981-2011.

For Karnauskas, part of this region is clearly an El Niño phenomenon in the making, a thesis that scientists could confirm in the coming months as the phenomenon gains strength. But the region in the Indian Ocean is different and may be an independent increase in this phenomenon.

And what do we expect now?

In addition to this warming, the world experienced an unusually cool surface due to La Niña for three years, a phenomenon that was a veritable cap on a bowl. But now that lid is closed.

However, the effect of El Niño on temperatures is usually observed in the year following the meteorological phenomenon. Therefore, the WMO fears that the effects may be observed in 2024.

In addition, the problem is that the temporary La Niña control over the increase in global temperatures no longer exists. “One consequence of this is that March 2023 was the second-highest March on record in terms of global mean surface temperatures on the planet,” NOAA oceanographer Mike McFadden said in an email.

If El Nino is expected to appear strongly later this year, McFadden wrote, “what we’re seeing now is just a precursor to more records on the way.”