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Study Says, World’s Oceans Were Warmest in 2019

Humans can work to reverse their effect on the climate, but the ocean will take longer to respond than atmospheric and land environments

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Oceans
The researchers used a relatively new method of analysis to account for potentially sparse data and time discrepancies in instruments that were previously used to measure warmth in oceans, especially from the ocean surface to 2,000 metres deep. Pixabay

The world’s oceans were the warmest in 2019 than any other time in the recorded human history — especially between the surface and a depth of 2,000 metres, an international team of 14 scientists from 11 institutes has revealed, with a warning that global ocean temperature is not only increasing but speeding up.

The past 10 years were the warmest on record for global ocean temperatures, with the past five years holding the highest record, said the authors in the study published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences — with a call to action for humans to reverse climate change.

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.

According to the study, the 2019 ocean temperature is about 0.075 degrees Celsius above the 1981-2010 average. To reach this temperature, the ocean would have taken in 228,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (228 Sextillion) Joules of heat.

“That’s a lot of zeros indeed. To make it easier to understand, I did a calculation. The Hiroshima atom-bomb exploded with an energy of about 63,000,000,000,000 Joules. The amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions,” elaborated Lijing Cheng, lead paper author at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

“This measured ocean warming is irrefutable and is further proof of global warming. There are no reasonable alternatives aside from the human emissions of heat trapping gases to explain this heating,” Cheng added.

The researchers used a relatively new method of analysis to account for potentially sparse data and time discrepancies in instruments that were previously used to measure ocean warmth, especially from the ocean surface to 2,000 metres deep.

The newly available data allowed the researchers to examine warmth trends dating back to the 1950s.

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The world’s oceans were the warmest in 2019 than any other time in the recorded human history — especially between the surface and a depth of 2,000 metres, an international team of 14 scientists from 11 institutes has revealed, with a warning that global ocean temperature is not only increasing but speeding up. Pixabay

They found that over the past six decades, the more recent warming was over 450 per cent that of the earlier warming, reflecting a major increase in the rate of global climate change.

“It is critical to understand how fast things are changing,” said John Abraham, co-author and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of St. Thomas in the US.

“The key to answering this question is in the oceans — that’s where the vast majority of heat ends up. If you want to understand global warming, you have to measure ocean warming.”

Humans can work to reverse their effect on the climate, but the ocean will take longer to respond than atmospheric and land environments.

Since 1970, more than 90 per cent of global warming heat went into the ocean, while less than 4 per cent of the heat warmed the atmosphere and land where humans live.

“Even with that small fraction affecting the atmosphere and land, the global heating has led to an increase in catastrophic fires in the Amazon, California and Australia in 2019, and we’re seeing that continue into 2020,” Cheng said.

The global ocean warming has caused marine heat waves in Tasman Sea and other regions.

One such marine heat wave in the North Pacific, dubbed “the blob,” was first detected in 2013 and continued through 2015.

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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 animals in Oceans. Pixabay

Kevin Trenberth, co-author and distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the US, said that a hot spot in the Gulf of Mexico in 2017 spawned Hurricane Harvey, which led to 82 deaths and caused about $108 billion in damages.

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“The price we pay is the reduction of ocean-dissolved oxygen, the harmed marine lives, strengthening storms and reduced fisheries and ocean-related economies,” Cheng said. (IANS)

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Climate Change Poses a Threat to the Health of Children

Report: Climate Disruption Threatens Health, Future of All Children

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Climate Change
A U.N.-backed report said Wednesday, warning climate change posed an urgent threat to the health and future of every child and adolescent. Pixabay

Many wealthy nations are letting the world’s younger generations down by failing to curb planet-warming emissions, a U.N.-backed report said Wednesday, warning climate change posed an urgent threat to the health and future of every child and adolescent.

A new global index showed children in Norway, South Korea and the Netherlands had the best chance at survival and well-being thanks to good health care, education and nutrition.

But a ranking of countries by per-capita carbon emissions put those and other rich nations, including the United States and Australia, close to the bottom on that measure, as major contributors to global health threats driven by climate change.

“Countries need to overhaul their approach to child and adolescent health, to ensure that we not only look after our children today but protect the world they will inherit in the future,” said former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, co-chair of the international commission that produced the report.

Climate Change
Students hold banners as they attend a climate school strike in London, Britain. VOA

Child flourishing, sustainability and equity

It said dramatic progress had been made in improving children’s lives in the past five decades but economic inequalities meant the benefits were not shared by all.

And the heating up of the planet and damage to the environment, among other stresses, meant every child faced an uncertain future, it added.

“Climate disruption is creating extreme risks from rising sea levels, extreme weather events, water and food insecurity, heat stress, emerging infectious diseases, and large-scale population migration,” said the report by more than 40 experts.

Commission member Sunita Narain, director general of the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, said that in her region of South Asia the main environmental threats came from water shortages and contamination, as well as air pollution.

Children’s health today “is at grave risk because of environmental degradation,” she added.

They are victims of a problem they did not cause — a situation that is particularly acute for the poor, she noted.

“The biggest inequity that we need to confront today is the inequity (of) climate change,” Narain told journalists.

The “sustainability” part of the index ranks countries on how their per-person emissions compare with a 2030 target giving a two-thirds chance of keeping global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.

Of the top 25 countries with the best score on emissions, all but two were African.

That contrasts starkly with the “flourishing” part of the index, where many African nations did badly on children’s health, education, nutritious food and protection from violence.

Climate Change
Climate disruption is creating extreme risks from rising sea levels, extreme weather events, water and food insecurity and that is why youngsters are protesting. Wikimedia Commons

Not one country performed well on all three measures of child flourishing, sustainability and equity, concluded the commission convened by the World Heath Organization, The Lancet medical journal and U.N. children’s agency UNICEF.

Protect and respond

Another key threat identified was exploitative marketing practices that push fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at children, increasingly through social media channels.

Report author Anthony Costello, professor of global health and sustainability at University College London, said children’s data was being harvested via online games and sold to big technology firms which then target youth with advertising.

“This is totally unregulated,” he said. “We think that there needs to be much greater attention to the protection of children around the world.”

They should also be placed at the center of efforts to achieve the global development goals agreed in 2015, he added.

Few countries have recorded much progress toward achieving those goals, which include ending poverty and hunger by 2030 and tackling climate change, the report noted.

Children should be given a bigger voice in policy decisions that affect their futures, it said — something they are already demanding through social movements like the school climate strikes that have mobilized students worldwide since mid-2018.

Jennifer Requejo, a UNICEF adviser on statistics and monitoring, said children could be involved through measures such as setting up local youth committees, informing them about their rights and having them participate in data collection.

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Costello said young people’s calls for a cleaner, safer world must be heeded by politicians.

“They are simply not responding at the moment in a way that is mature and evidence-based,” he added. (VOA)