Now SHARKS could get even angrier in warmer seas as world’s oceans hit hottest EVER recorded temperature of 20.96C after climate change heats up the planet’s waters, scientists warn
Now sharks could become even angrier after the world’s oceans have hit their highest recorded surface temperature, according to scientists.
Copernicus, the EU’s weather service, revealed yesterday that the sea surface temperatures reached an average of 20.96C – beating the previous highest logged in 2016 of 20.95C.
Warmer seas spell trouble for fish and coral and could lead to a rise in sea levels. As oceans warm, fish such as cod may have to move further north to reach the cooler seas they prefer.
And predators such as sharks could become aggressive because they get confused in hotter conditions. The University of Southampton’s Dr Simon Boxall told the Telegraph: ‘Sharks getting grumpy wouldn’t surprise me at all. Fish are pretty jumpy about temperature.’
A spokesman for Copernicus said yesterday: ‘The record is broken. The oceans are the hottest recorded.’
Now sharks could become even angrier after the world’s oceans have hit their highest recorded surface temperature, according to scientists
Average sea temperatures have been climbing steadily since records started back in the late 1970s, the data shows. Here, daily global sea surface temperature (°C) are plotted as a time series for each year from January 1, 1979 to July 23, 2023. The years 2023 and 2016 are shown with thick lines shaded in bright red and dark red, respectively. Other years are shown with thin lines and shaded according to the decade, from blue (1970s) to brick red (2020s)
WMO says July is sure to be the hottest month ‘by a significant margin’. Pictured are the 30 warmest months on record globally
Samantha Burgess, from the climate monitoring service, says March should be when the oceans are the warmest globally, not August. She told the BBC: ‘The fact we’ve seen the record now makes me nervous about how much warmer the ocean might get between now and next March’.
The record temperatures are partly driven by the El Nino weather phenomenon – the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean – with 2016 also being an El Nino year.
But global warming is likely to be pushing up temperatures, she said. ‘The more we burn fossil fuels, the more excess heat will be taken out by the oceans, which means the longer it will take to stabilise them and get them back to where they were,’ Dr Burgess added.
Dr Katie Longo, from the Marine Stewardship Council, said: ‘It could mean fish such as cod drop in numbers. Cod feed on tiny shrimp-like creatures called copepods, and the changing temperature can mean the copepods breed at the wrong time for the cod larvae to feed on’.
Dr Kathryn Lesneski, who is monitoring a marine heatwave in the Gulf of Mexico for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the BBC: ‘The water feels like a bath when you jump in.
Air surface temperatures are usually the main metric looked at when considering temperature rises, but ocean temperatures are key indicators too (file photo)
‘Right now there is widespread coral bleaching at shallow reefs in Florida and many corals have already died.’
Scientists are investigating the reasons behind why the oceans are so hot but say that climate change is making the seas much warmer as they absorb most of the heating from greenhouse gas emissions.
The broken temperature record follows a series of marine heatwaves this year including in the UK, the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Professor Rowan Sutton, from the University of Reading and National Centre for Atmospheric Science, said: ‘The ocean warming is concerning.
‘The latest sea surface temperature data from Copernicus suggests we may be experiencing not just a record-breaking extreme event but a record-shattering one.
‘And this is not simply for a local measure of temperature, but for a global one, which will have much greater impacts.
‘Whilst there are certainly short-term factors, the major long-term cause is without any doubt the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by human activities, primarily burning fossil fuels.
‘This is yet another alarm bell that screams out for the most urgent actions to limit future warming and to adapt to the serious changes that are unfolding before our eyes.’