Ocean surface temperatures around the world were the warmest on record for the month of June, according to federal scientists, though they...
WASHINGTON — Ocean surface temperatures around the world were the warmest on record for the month of June, according to federal scientists, though they caution that one month doesn’t necessarily imply global warming.
The warmer temperatures do confirm that an ocean phenomenon known as El Niño is building in the Pacific Ocean. Occurring roughly every three to eight years, El Niño is a warming of water in the eastern Pacific, which can disrupt weather patterns.
So far, the year has been among the warmest on record for ocean temperatures, ranking sixth based on January through June. The June temperature averaged 62.56 degrees Fahrenheit; the 20th-century average was 61.5 degrees. “The high ocean temperatures can threaten coral reefs, provide more energy to hurricanes, cause thermal expansion, which would raise sea level and inundate coasts, force the relocation of some aquatic species and thus impact fisheries,” said Ahira Sanchez-Lugo, a climate scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The hottest spots were the north Pacific south of Alaska, along the U.S. West Coast and the Atlantic Ocean off New England. Deke Arndt, a climate scientist with NOAA in Ashville, N.C. also said that this year marked the 33rd consecutive June with a temperature above the 20th-century average, which may provide an indication of global warming.
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During an El Niño year, the Southwest tends to be wetter, the Northwest drier and there’s an increased chance of severe weather, such as hurricanes, in the South.