The global ocean surface temperature reached 21.1°C (approximately 70°F) in early April, the highest recorded ocean surface temperature since records began. The recorded high beat the previous highest ocean surface temperature of 21.0°C, recorded in 2016.

The daily Sea Surface Temperature hit 21.1°C on April 1 and remained there through April 6, as recorded by the Climate Reanalyzer, a tool from the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute.

“The current trajectory looks like it’s headed off the charts, smashing previous records,”  Matthew England, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales, told The Guardian.

While the previous few years, under La Niña conditions, saw slightly cooler sea surface temperatures, experts are now seeing heat rising up to the ocean surface. Global warming can further contribute to rising ocean temperatures, and globally, we are seeing an average of 0.32° F (0.18° C) warming per decade.

The record ocean surface temperatures could foreshadow El Niño conditions later in 2023. With these patterns, we could see more flooding around the Gulf Coast in the U.S. and in the southeastern part of the country. Warming ocean surface temperatures can also alter food webs and marine ecosystems.

Warmer ocean surface temperatures may also mean more marine heatwaves, and the conditions leading to ocean warming may also lead to increasing temperatures on land. Researchers are already recording an unusually high amount of extreme marine heatwaves occurring at once. Rising temperatures and increasing heatwaves can lead to several negative consequences, from melting ice and increasing sea level rise to more severe storms and risks to marine life, including coral bleaching events.

Read the full article about ocean surface temperatures by Paige Bennett at EcoWatch.