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An international team released 2018 ocean heat content observations in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences on January 16, 2019. The newly available observations show that the year 2018 is the hottest year ever recorded for the global ocean, as evident in its highest ocean heat content since 1950s in the upper 2000m. Compared to the average value measured from 1981 to 2010, the 2018 ocean heat anomaly is approximately 19.67 x 1022 Joules, a unit measure for heat. This heat increase in 2018 relative to 2017 is ~388 times more than the total electricity generated by China in 2017, and ~ 100 million times more than the Hiroshima bomb. The years 2017, 2015, 2016 and 2014 came in just after 2018 in order of decreasing ocean heat content. The values are based on an ocean temperature analysis product conducted by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) at Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The new study sheds light on how much oceanic water temperatures have been changing over the years. The change in ocean heat content is considered to be one of the best—if not the best—way to measure climate change driven by greenhouse gases emitted by human activities. This is because the global warming is driven by the Earth's energy imbalance due to more greenhouse gases in the air. The vast majority (more than 90 percent) of global warming heat is deposited in the world's oceans. Also, ocean temperature is less impacted by natural fluctuations, and is a robust indicator of climate change. Therefore, this record-breaking ocean heat record serves as direct evidence for global warming and represents a basis for adaptation to and mitigation of climate change.
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