Senior Editor
NASA sea current visualization

NASA gave color to the average sea current temperatures in 2007-2008, and it should be a wake up call. Image: NASA//Instagram

The Inertia

It’s strange that our planet is called Earth, because 70 percent of it isn’t earth. It’s water. The oceans, however, are changing, and a recent post from NASA is an alarming wake up call.

“The seas are important drivers of Earth’s global climate,’ NASA wrote. “Yet, increasing greenhouse gases from human activities are altering the ocean before our eyes.”

The post, which includes a visualization of sea surface currents. The colors in the clip show the currents’ average temperatures. Red, orange, and yellow represent warmer water temperatures while blue and green represent the cooler ones. The data is from 2007-2008.

Average ocean temperatures are rising, which has several knock-on effects. What makes it hard to wrap our heads around, however, is the scale of them — not only in terms of size, but in time. There’s an old saying that goes “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit,” and right now, not enough old men are planting trees. The temperature of the ocean affects rainfall — both too much and too little — sea life, sea level, and the global climate. It’s worth a reminder here that weather and climate are different thing. “Weather reflects short-term conditions of the atmosphere,” NOAA explains, “while climate is the average daily weather for an extended period of time at a certain location.”

As our oceans warm, we can expect stronger storms, more flooding, more droughts, and just more bad things in general. “Scientists expect environmental changes such as warming oceans, rising sea levels, frequency and intensity of floods and droughts, and ocean acidification to increase with continued shifts in the planet’s climate system,” NOAA wrote.

All is not quite lost, but we will need to plant more trees that we won’t enjoy the shade from if we want to change what the future looks like.

“The projections of a climate change-impacted future are not inevitable,” NOAA said. “Many of the problems and solutions offsite link are known to us now, and ongoing research continues to provide new ones. Experts believe there is still time to avoid the most negative of outcomes by limiting warming offsite link and reducing emissions to zero as quickly as possible. Reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases will require investment in new technology and infrastructure, which will spur job growth. Additionally, lowering emissions will lessen harmful impacts to human health, saving countless lives and billions of dollars in health-related expenses.”


Only the best. We promise.


Join our community of contributors.