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AFP Photo / James Cook, University and ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies/ Greg Torda

Oceans had their hottest year on record in 2018 as global warming accelerates

Earth’s oceans had their warmest year on record in 2018, a stark indication of the enormous amount of heat being absorbed by the sea as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, scientists reported Wednesday.

The analysis by an international team of scientists confirms the oceans are heating up much faster than previously recognized, and that the pace of warming has accelerated sharply since the 1990s.

Rising ocean temperatures are already having profound consequences across the globe, scientists say, contributing to more intense hurricanes, destroying coral reefs and causing sea levels to rise.

The report in the journal Advances in Academic Sciences builds on a a study last week that found oceans are warming 40% more, on average, than was estimated by a United Nations scientific panel just five years ago. In fact, each of the last 10 years is among the 10 warmest on record, according to data from Lijing Cheng of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Beijing, who led the research.

The unrelenting pattern is “incontrovertible proof that the Earth is warming,” and an unmistakable signal of the serious damage humans are already causing through climate change, the authors of the new study wrote.

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