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EU scientists say ocean surface temperatures reach record high in February

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Sam McNeil/Copyright {2022} The AP. All rights reserved

El Niño

The world's oceans reached record temperatures in February, according to the latest report from the European Union’s climate change agency, Copernicus.

It confirmed on Thursday that the average sea surface temperature for the month reached 21.06 degrees Celsius, surpassing the previous record on 20.98 C set in August last year.

The agency said February ended with the average daily sea surface temperatures reaching an “absolute high” of 21.09 degrees Celsius.

And it was no better on land. The new marine record comes as Copernicus declared last month to be the hottest February on record globally.

The average air temperature was 13.54 degrees, that is 0.12 degrees higher than the previous warmest February in 2016.

For the scientists trying to save ocean habitats and species around the world the new report does not come as a surprise.

“We know that the entire period globally has been the hottest on record. And this is tied to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, and there is a bit of boost from El Niño,” said Dr Akshay Deoras, a climate scientist with the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading.

But he said El Niño is not the only cause behind this.

While it has kept temperatures high, it is now beginning to weaken in the equatorial Pacific - the centre of the weather system’s action.

The latest reports, however, show temperatures are increasing on land and water regardless of the weather system.

Deoras believes the temperatures are clearly linked to global warming caused by increases in greenhouse gas emissions.

Also of concern is the fact that other oceans are also heating up.

“Because we are having El Nino in the Pacific, we would expect that to be like really hot, which it is. But at the same time, we are getting this kind of massive heating in the Atlantic, tropical Atlantic, and also parts of the Indian Ocean,” he said.

This could have devastating long-term consequences for their eco-systems, particularly tropical coral reefs in the southern hemisphere.

According to Copernicus, the 1.56 average rise in temperature for the past 12 months shows the world is already breaching it’s attempt to limit warming to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels.