Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Warmest seas on record

From the Sydney Morning Herald (via Al Gore's Journal)

Warmest seas on record
Ben Cubby, Environment Reporter
July 25, 2009

FOR as long as people have taken the temperature of the seas they have never been so warm.

Global ocean surface temperatures for June were the highest since records began, in 1880, breaking the record set in 2005, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration of the United States says.

The average sea surface temperature for June, measured by satellites and buoys, was 0.59 degrees above the 20th-century average of 16.4 degrees.

The combined land and sea temperature was the second warmest on record, behind 2005. The US agency is one of three international groups that supply data to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

On land, Africa bore the brunt of the hotter weather, while temperatures in nations around the edge of the Mediterranean and Black seas were also high.

At the same time, some land areas were unseasonably cold, including the central US, parts of Canada and central Asia.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology has raised its predictions of an El Nino cycle this year, which would spell hotter weather and less rain.

The bureau said extremely high sea temperatures in the western Pacific, Coral Sea and off northern Australia were not usually associated with an El Nino event, but this was still likely to become an El Nino year.

"Based on what's happening in the oceans, we could say that we are already in an El Nino," a climatologist at the bureau, Karl Braganza, said. "Either way we will probably know by spring. Unfortunately spring is when most people are relying on rainfall, but at this stage we could probably expect very dry conditions."

If an El Nino took hold, the bureau said, global temperatures next year could near those of 1998, the hottest year on record.