New climate report says Earth in hotter water

Denise Krebs/Flikr

By Renee Lewis / Al Jazeera America / July 16, 2015

Sea levels, greenhouse gases and both land and sea temperatures reached record highs in 2014, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual “State of the Climate” report published Thursday.

“This report represents data from around the globe, from hundreds of scientists and gives us a picture of what happened in 2014,” Thomas R. Karl, director of the NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, said in a statement.

“The variety of changing indicators shows us how our climate is changing, not just in temperature but from the depths of the oceans to the outer atmosphere,” Karl said.

The annual report — which refutes claims of a pause or slowdown in global warming — was published in partnership with the American Meteorological Society.

Record temperatures were observed near the Earth’s surface, according to the report, with four independent global datasets confirming that 2014 was the hottest year on record.

Ocean surface temperatures were also the warmest in 135 years, and researchers observed the highest heat levels ever recorded in the deep sea, according to report.

The report said oceans absorb over 90 percent of Earth’s excess heat from greenhouse gases. Along with warmer temperatures, the oceans have become increasingly acidic — impacting marine life, especially shellfish and coral reefs.

Global sea level rise increased to a record high in 2014, keeping pace with the trend over the past two decades, the report said. Rising seas have already begun exacerbating floods and storms in low-lying areas and islands around the world.

Although the sea level does not rise or fall uniformly over the planet, scientists found that in 2014 the global average sea level was 2.6 inches above the 1993 average. The report said the overall sea level continues to rise at a rate of 1/8 of an inch per year and added that the pace of the rise has increased in recent decades.

With the melting of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, scientists have said the world could see around six feet of sea level rise by 2100. Earlier predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of a three-foot rise by the end of the century.

Summing up much of the report, NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt, co-editor of “State of the Climate,” said the seas last year “were just ridiculous.”

With wire services

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