Climate Action

Extreme Ocean Temperatures: Proof of the Suffering We Cause Our Home

This summer has been one of the hottest in our planet’s history, with new records set daily. The extreme heat serves as a clear sign our planet is suffering. So much, in fact, it can no longer counteract the negative effects of climate change on its own. Earth needs our help. 

Climate change is not a problem of the future, its impacts are plaguing the planet now. Increases in global temperatures, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, etc. verify this. We rely on the ocean as our greatest natural defense to stabilize against the effects of climate change.  

Typically, the ocean acts as a balancing force to regulate atmospheric temperature through the process of absorption. The ocean’s currents mix water of different temperatures and disperse the heat throughout to prevent overheating. However, because temperatures have been so extreme recently, the ocean has not been able to stabilize its own heat. 

Climate Change Strengthens Extreme Heat Waves 

The major factor contributing to severe heat is human caused climate change, which is augmented by the El Niño effect. El Niño is a natural climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean, resulting in warmer ocean temperatures. Climate change has intensified the once natural increase in ocean temperatures, with unprecedented heat waves continuing to be the new normal if we refuse to act.

Increased Ocean Temperatures Present Dangers

There are many dangers associated with marine heat waves, capable of gravely altering ecosystems. The heat stresses coral, depriving it of proper nutrients and contributes to coral bleaching, putting the entire coral ecosystem at risk of death. When coral bleaches, fish species die, disrupting food webs and causing the death of other species. 

Dangers of ocean heating are a global threat, for oceans cover over 70% of Earth’s surface. Increased water vapor in the atmosphere impacts precipitation patterns, altering the surrounding climates. Additionally, as temperature rises, water expands, thus exacerbating the sea level rise we are already experiencing.

Actions Needed for a Better Future 

While the news of marine heat waves is discouraging, there is still hope for a better future. We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to stop heat waves at the source. Greenhouse gasses induce an atmospheric warming effect, which is what produces marine heat waves. There are several actions humanity must take in order to control emissions, such as investment in clean energy, sustainable fashion practices, reforestation, climate literacy, and reducing plastic production. 

Do not be deterred by the damage already done to the environment. This is not the end, rather a sign we must act now. Join EARTHDAY.ORG as a member and take part in our climate action efforts.