Driving the news: In early April, the global ocean surface temperature reached a record-breaking 21.1°C (approximately 70°F), surpassing the previous record of 21.0°C set in 2016.
- The Climate Reanalyzer, a tool from the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute, recorded this daily Sea Surface Temperature from April 1 to April 6.
Why it matters for the planet: Warming ocean surface temperatures hurts food webs and marine ecosystems. Already, the global population of marine species has declined by an average of 50% since the 1970s (WWF)
- Additionally, higher temperatures could increase flooding in the US Gulf Coast and southeastern regions.
What’s next: Record temperatures may signal the end of La Niña and the onset of El Niño, a climate pattern affecting global temperatures and weather.
- With La Niña, the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming are often subdued, making surface temperatures cooler.
- "We are likely seeing the climate change signal coming through loud and clear," said Mike McPhaden, a senior research scientist at NOAA.
One stat: The average surface temperature of the world's seas has increased by around 0.9C compared to preindustrial levels, with 0.6C coming in the last 40 years alone (source: IPCC).
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