SST World (60S-60N)
On April 20, 2023, sea surface temperatures (between 60°South and 60°North) had been at 21°C or higher for as many as 32 days. Such temperatures are unprecedented in the NOAA record that goes back to 1981.
On April 4, the sea surface temperature in 2023 (black line) was as much as 0.3°C higher than in 2022 (orange line) and we’re only just entering the upcoming El Niño.
SST North Atlantic
The situation is especially critical in the North Atlantic. Vast amounts of ocean heat in the North Atlantic are moving toward the Arctic, threatening to cause rapid melting of Arctic sea ice and thawing of permafrost. Last year, North Atlantic sea surface temperatures reached a record high of 24.9°C in early September and, as illustrated by the image below, the North Atlantic sea surface temperature on April 20 was as much as 0.5°C higher in 2023 (black) than in 2022 (orange).
As we’re moving into the upcoming El Niño, the Arctic Ocean can be expected to receive more and more heat over the next few years, i.e. more heat from direct sunlight, more heat from rivers, more heat from heatwaves and more ocean heat from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
As illustrated by the image below, the difference in global temperatures (Land+Ocean) between November 2022 and March 2023 is already about half a degree Celsius and we are not even in an El Niño yet.
Rising temperatures threaten to trigger massive loss of sea ice (and loss of albedo) and eruptions of methane from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. Over the next few years, feedbacks threaten to start kicking in with increased ferocity and important tipping points threaten to get crossed, such as the latent heat tipping point and the seafloor methane tipping point.
El Niño can be expected to reach its full strength within a few years, with a maximum possible in 2026. Altogether, the rise from pre-industrial could be more than 18.44°C by 2026. Meanwhile, humans are likely to go extinct with a rise of 3°C and most life on Earth will disappear with a 5°C rise.
• Climate Reanalyzer – Daily sea surface temperatures
• Temperatures rising fast March 2023
• Sea surface temperature at record high
• Climate Emergency Declaration