Another Canary Squawks: Annual Report Shows Unstoppable Ocean Warming

More than 400 scientists from 58 countries on three continents determined in their annual planetary exam that the temperatures of the earth’s surfaces are rising to historic highs, greenhouse gases continue to climb, and when it comes to the oceans, warming is unstoppable.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American Meteorological Society’s State of the Climate 2014 annual report, published Thursday, delivers a grim assessment of trends that were already well-established.

“Even if we were to freeze greenhouse gases at current levels, the sea would actually continue to warm for centuries and millennia, and as they continue to warm and expand the sea levels will continue to rise,” Greg Johnson, an oceanographer for NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, told a conference call for reporters.

In 2014, ocean surface temperatures were the hottest they have been in the 135 years that records have been kept. The sea level also reached a record-setting high.

Correspondingly, tropical cyclones were well above average, with 91 recorded in 2014, far surpassing the average of 82 such storms a year between 1981 and 2010.

The temperature of the planet’s surface also broke new records. “Four independent global datasets showed that 2014 was the warmest year on record,” states a report summary released by NOAA. “The warmth was widespread across land areas. Europe experienced its warmest year on record, with more than 20 countries exceeding their previous records. Africa had above-average temperatures across most of the continent throughout 2014.”

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“This report represents data from around the globe, from hundreds of scientists and gives us a picture of what happened in 2014,” explained Thomas Karl, director of NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, in a press statement. “The variety of indicators shows us how our climate is changing, not just in temperature but from the depths of the oceans to the outer atmosphere.”

Bill Snape, senior counsel to the Center for Biological Diversity, told Common Dreams that the study is “another canary in the coalmine squawking very loudly for us to stop talking and start acting.”

“It will only get worse the more we wait,” Snape added. “This report underscores need for urgent reductions of greenhouse gases from all sectors.”

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