Report asserts oceans in deep trouble
Published on September 26th, 2019
by George Day, Blue Water Sailing magazine
I am a sailor. I have spent my life, both personally and professionally, in boats sailing the oceans of the world. In the last 20 years or so, I have had a sense that something is different about the oceans, the currents, the prevailing winds and, especially, the storms.
Well, that sense has been confirmed. The world’s oceans are in deep trouble and that trouble is going to affect all of us, sailors or not. On September 26, the United Nations published a report called the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. Compiled by more than 100 noted scientists from 36 countries from more than 6,900 in-depth climatological, peer-reviewed studies, the report paints a detailed and troubling picture of how the world’s oceans are absorbing the heat generated by global warming at a frighteningly increasing rate.
As the oceans warm, as the ice at the poles melt, things are changing rapidly. The Gulf Stream that warms the British Isles and western Europe is threatened and may stop flowing which, in turn, would cause dramatic cooling in those regions. The polar vortex that we have experienced several times in recent winters, will become more active and mobile since it will not be constrained by the prevailing jet streams.
Ocean storms, hurricanes and typhoons in particular, will be fueled by warming ocean water and increased evaporation thereby creating devastating storms of greater force and frequency. And, as the oceans rise, low lying areas like Miami Beach and much of Florida, New York City’s five boroughs, New Orleans, and the whole Gulf Coast will face increased flooding and destruction.
This is no longer scientific theory. The events of recent years confirm what has long been predicted, except that the change in the oceans is happening much faster than expected. As a sailor and citizen of the planet, this is all very alarming.