Extreme heat in the world’s oceans passed the “point of no return” in 2014 and has become the new normal, according to research.

Scientists analysed sea surface temperatures over the last 150 years, which have risen because of global heating. They found that extreme temperatures occurring just 2% of the time a century ago have occurred at least 50% of the time across the global ocean since 2014.

In some hotspots, extreme temperatures occur 90% of the time, severely affecting wildlife. More than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases is absorbed by the ocean, which plays a critical role in maintaining a stable climate.

Other scientists reported in 2019 that the number of heatwaves affecting the planet’s oceans had increased sharply, killing swathes of sea life like “wildfires that take out huge areas of forest”.

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