Credit, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Early in the month, a report said the global sea surface temperature reached 21.4 degrees Celsius, a new all-time high above the 1982-2011 mean of 20.34 degrees Celsius and a one-in-seven hundred and forty thousand anomaly event, a terrifying but not unexpected occurrence that experts had predicted could be  reached between 2017 and 2014.

In another report, extensive coral bleaching took place in February in the southern hemisphere from southeasterly to Easter Island, with mass bleaching reported in the Savusavu area, as water temperatures measured as high as 33 degrees Celsius at the surface over the inner reefs, and as high as 30  degrees Celsius down to 20 meters.

Meanwhile, experts say the loss in mass of the earth frozen poles reached 7,560 billion tons between 1992 and 2022, with the quantity from Greeland and Antarctica responsible for a quarter of all sea level rise, the contribution five times what it was in 1997, almost two-thirds (13.5mm) of this  due to melting in Greenland, one-third (7.4mm) the result of melting in Antarctica.  

These three reports indicate that ocean temperatures now reach levels to give people a cause for concern, breaking  records related to ocean temperatures, indicating accelerated coral bleaching in the southern hemisphere, and illustrating the extent in mass loss of the earth’s frozen poles.

Over the past 15 years, the earth absorbed as much heat as it did in the previous 45 years, with the oceans accumulating 90 percent of the warming during the period, storing the added energy at the depth of zero to 700 meters, all leading to 2022 becoming the year when the oceans recorded their highest warming figure as well as saw their highest sea level rise.

Over the past few months, the La Nina phenomenon appears to be retreating, bringing an end to the cooling of the Pacific Ocean in the past three years, as well as some respite from the record-breaking rains in Australia, the active hurricane seasons, and the drought in the eastern parts of Africa.

Over the past few months, the wind patterns at the eastern Pacific Ocean near Chile show the possible arrival of El Nino, with above average sea surface temperatures becoming evident in the western and far eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, recording  a +27 degrees Celsius in the Nino Index Value, most of the extra heat  going into the top 1.2 miles (two km) of sea water, even though warming also takes place  down the water column.

The retreating La Nina means the end to the cooling of the Pacific Ocean, while the arrival of the El Nino means the beginning of the heating of the oceans, and when the increased accumulation of heat by the ocean is added to the issues related to the state of La Nina and El Nino, it becomes apparent why the ocean temperature records get broken at this side of climate change over the past few months.

In 2016, during the El Nino period, the earth’s temperature recorded its highest figure, reaching 0.99 degrees Celsius warmer than the mid-20th century mean, the third year in a row of a new record for global average temperatures, continuing a warming trend of the previous 35 years.

In 2017, Hawaii experienced record-breaking high sea levels, following a strong El Nino and weak trade winds, with high water levels starting in 2016 and peaking in 2017, the event bringing about beach erosion and flooding, waves having a run-up to the sidewalks along famous Waikiki Beach on Oahu, and resulting in less than ideal surfing conditions.

In the last mega El-Niño of 2014-2017, high temperatures affected about three-quarters of the world’s reefs in both hemispheres, with about 30 percent of them perishing from the bleaching, as corals became ghostly white, having lost their life-sustaining Zooxanthellae.

During the last El-Nino, the warming Pacific Ocean off Peru experienced one of the deadliest rainfalls in living memory, as at least 62 people died and 700,000 became homeless, with half of the country placed on a state of emergency, with a woman caked in mud becoming famous as she pulled herself from a debris-filled river after a mudslide rushed through a valley where she tended her  crops.

Assuming an El-Nino comes later in the year, large areas could experience record-breaking high sea levels, putting at risk the lives of more than 680 million people living in low-lying coastal areas, while the world could also experience an additional global warming of 0.2-0.25 degrees Celsius, nudging some areas past 1.5 degrees Celsius for the first time.

Experts project that people living in highly vulnerable communities stand the risk of death more than 15 times compared to those living in low vulnerable areas through the record-breaking high sea levels, and 70 to 90 percent of coral reefs could stand the risk of destruction through a warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Inevitably, the three recent reports about global sea temperature rises should not only give people a cause for concern, but also act as an impetus for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions through a movement from traditional fossil fuels to new zero-emission energy sources, as this could prove crucial in the fight against climate change, the force behind most of the changes noticeable today.

What to Eat

Peru Vegan Dish, Credit, Perudelights.com

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