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New study on sea surface temperatures

A new study has found beyond a shadow of a doubt that we’re changing the sea surface temperatures. Image: NOAA

The Inertia

We’ve known (some of us, anyway) for a while now that human activity is influencing the planet’s climate. For a while there, our endless vomiting of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere was making subtle differences, but as the years passed and our lust for money and comfort grew, so too did the diameter of our stream of vomit. Now, a new study has found that “a human-caused signal in the seasonal cycle of sea surface temperature (SST) has emerged from the noise of natural variability.” In layman’s terms, our impact is not subtle anymore.

Ocean temperatures have been breaking records for a few years in a row now. In February of 2024, the hottest water temperatures on the books were recorded. “According to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, average global sea surface temperature was 69.91 degrees Fahrenheit,” wrote The Inertia’s Cooper Gegan. “As Reuters reports, this surpassed the previous record of 69.77 F, set in August 2023, in a data set that goes back to 1979.”

In 2023, researchers found evidence that the increasingly warming temperatures were likely an indicator of what is to come — and they’re sounding the alarm, as they have been for a long time now.

“The climate of 2023 with all the disasters, you know, with all the wildfires in Canada and all the flooding events in Europe and everything, you can interpret this as, this is what we will have every year. Year after year after year in the 3-degree world,” Till Kuhlbrodt, who authored a study on 2023’s temperatures, told the Associated Press. “You don’t want to go there.”

The rising heat is changing the ocean dramatically. The delicate balance of life that has evolved under certain conditions is now facing a wide range of problems, and a lot of those problems can be traced right back to human activity. Our actions are reshaping the natural seasons of the ocean and the fluctuating sea surface temperatures.

The sea surface temperature is so important to the world’s climate because it absorbs around 90 percent of excess heat. As the world warms due to our constant emissions of greenhouse gasses, the sea surface temperatures are skyrocketing, which has wide-reaching ramifications on the planet’s weather patterns. Those ramifications can be seen in the increasingly violent storms, floods, and fires we’ve been seeing for the last few years.

Climate skeptics generally believe that the warming can be attributed to the Earth’s regular rhythms. And while it is true that the Earth has had a changing climate since the very beginning, it’s the rate of the change that’s the issue. And it can no longer be denied that we’re at the root of it.

“This research rebuts claims that recent temperature changes are natural, whether due to the Sun or due to internal cycles in the climate system,” stated Dr. Jia-Rui Shi, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  “A natural explanation is virtually impossible in terms of what we are looking at here: changes in the seasonal temperatures of the ocean. This research further rules out the claim that we don’t need to treat climate change seriously because it is natural.”


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