Ocean warming poses a threat to food security and people’s livelihoods. Photo:Zhu Jiang
A new report shows the world’s oceans were the warmest in 2019 than at any other time in recorded human history, and authors of the report warn that more catastrophic fires like those that have ravaged the Amazon and Australia are likely, and called for urgent action to reverse climate change.
The paper, titled “Record-setting ocean warmth continued in 2019”, was published by the international journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences on Monday. It was written by 14 scientists from 11 institutes around the world, Cheng Lijing, the lead author and associate professor with the International Center for Climate and Environmental Sciences at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
The paper also concludes the past decade has been the warmest 10 years on record for global ocean temperatures, with each of the past five years breaking successive records.
According to the study, the 2019 ocean temperature is about 0.075 C above the 1981-2010 average, and the global ocean temperature is not only increasing, but is rising more quickly.
The amount of additional heat the world’s oceans have taken in over the past 25 years is equal to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions, Cheng said.
He said that the ocean warming is proof of global warming, and since 1970, more than 90 percent of heat caused by global warming was absorbed by oceans, harming marine life, generating stronger storms, reducing fish harvests and damaging ocean-related economies.
The South China Sea and China’s other coastal waters are also suffering from rising global ocean temperatures, Cheng said.
High temperatures caused the deaths of sea cucumbers in a large area in Northeast China’s Liaoning Province in the summer of 2018, Cheng said.
2019 broke the previous records set in prior years for global warming, and the effects are already appearing in the form of more extreme weather, rising sea levels and harm to ocean animals, the authors said.
“Global heating is one of the reasons for the increase in catastrophic fires in the Amazon, California and Australia in 2019, and we’re seeing that continue into 2020,” Cheng said.
The Australian bushfires have killed at least 27 people and a billion animals, reports have said.
Cheng warned that more disasters like the Australian bushfire will take place as global warming intensifies. As sea levels rise, coastal cities worldwide especially in Malaysia and the Maldives, will have to deal with submerged land.
The authors called for stepped up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, develop new energy sources and transition to a clean energy society to help mitigate the impact of global warming and better prepare for the upcoming challenges.