This article discusses how Earth’s oceans are routinely breaking heat records. Two recently published peer-reviewed studies make clear that the planet’s oceans are continuing to set hottest-yet temperature records nearly every year and, secondly, that the rate of ocean warming is in virtual lockstep with what modern climate models have projected.
One study, led by Cheng and colleagues and published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, concludes that 2018 was the hottest year ever recorded in the oceans. In fact, since the turn of the century, all but three years – 2007, 2010, and 2016 – have set a new ocean heat record.
In the second paper, published in Science, a team of researchers led by Cheng compared the most recent measurements of ocean warming to model projections. In the most recent IPCC report, published five years ago, while ocean heat estimates fell within the range of model projections, the observational data between 1971 and 2010 was warming about 25 to 40 percent more slowly than the model average. However, ocean heat content data have become more accurate since the publication of that IPCC report. Scientists now have more data from Argo floats, thousands of which have been deployed around the world’s oceans in the years since 2003.