Record high sea temperatures cause concern over extreme weather

Map from NOAA

Tyler Chalfant | April 20th, 2020

As parts of the world’s oceans hit record high temperatures last month, researchers are concerned that 2020 could see a series of extreme weather events. The high temperatures in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean, combined with intense weather systems that have prevented much of the cold water in the Arctic from spilling south, create an environment that could intensify tropical storms.

These warm sea temperatures also have spilled over onto land, Deke Arndt, chief of the monitoring section at the National Centers for Environmental Information in North Carolina told Bloomberg. Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico last month were 76.3 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.7 degrees above the long term average. As a result, Florida recorded its warmest ever March, and Miami reached 93 degrees on Wednesday, 10 degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service.

Michelle L’Heureux, a forecaster at the U.S. Climate Prediction Center, said that the entire tropical ocean is above average. Global sea temperatures were 1.49 degrees Fahrenheit above average in March, the second highest level ever recorded, behind only March 2016, when temperatures were 1.55 degrees above average.

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