Pandemic-related shutdowns might have spared Earth’s environment some greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, but the world continued to warm.

Water temperature measurements from around the globe indicate that the total quantity of heat saved in the upper oceans in 2020 was greater than any other year on record dating back to 1955, scientists report online January 13 in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences Tracking ocean temperature level is very important since warmer water melts more ice off the edges of Greenland and Antarctica, which raises sea levels ( SN: 4/30/20) and turbo charges tropical storms ( SN: 11/11/20).

Scientist approximated the total heat energy kept in the upper 2,000 meters of Earth’s oceans utilizing temperature level data from moored sensors, wandering probes called Argo drifts, underwater robotics and other instruments ( SN: 5/19/10). Heat energy storage was up about 20 sextillion joules from 2019– suggesting that in 2020, Earth’s oceans absorbed about sufficient heat to boil 1.3 billion kettles of water.

This analysis may overstate how much the oceans warmed last year, states study coauthor Kevin Trenberth, a climate researcher with the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research who is currently based in Auckland, New Zealand. The researchers likewise crunched ocean temperature data using a 2nd, more conservative approach for estimating overall annual ocean heat and found that the dive from 2019 to 2020 might be as low as 1 sextillion joules.

The three other warmest years on record for the world’s oceans were 2017, 2018 and 2019. Groundhog Day has a happy ending.


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