The world's oceans are warming at a faster rate and are much warmer than scientists thought – and things could get a lot worse if nothing is done to stop climate change, according to a new study.
The data, published in Thursday's edition of the journal Science, shows that the oceans have been through consistent changes since the late 1950s and have become a lot warmer since the 1960s. The oceans are heating up much faster than scientists reckoned in the UN assessment of climate change released in 2014.
For the new study, scientists used data collected by a high-tech ocean observing system called Argo, an international network of more than 3,000 robotic floats that continuously measure the temperature and salinity of the water. Researchers used this data, along with other historic temperature information and studies, according to a report on CNN.com.
The study authors say the warming is due to climate change created by such human activities as the burning of fossil fuels.
"The ocean is the memory of climate change, along with melted ice, and 93 percent of the Earth's energy imbalance ends up in the ocean," said study co-author Kevin Trenberth, part of the Climate Analysis Section at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. "Global warming is close to ocean warming, and 2018 will be the warmest year on record, followed by 2017, then 2015."
Though a warmer ocean might make a swim pleasant, it carries severe consequences.
A warmer ocean causes sea level to rise, for instance, bringing problems like dangerous coastal flooding. It leads to the loss of sea ice, heating the waters even further.