May 1, 2024 - Energy & Environment

North Atlantic Ocean record hot streak ends (for now)

Average sea surface temperatures for North Atlantic Ocean Basin
Data: NOAA OIST v2.1 via Climate Reanalyzer, University of Maine; Note: Mean refers to 1982-2011; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

Ocean temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean Basin went an astonishing 421 straight days at record highs before ending the streak on Monday.

Why it matters: Ocean temperatures in the North Atlantic, particularly certain portions of it, will help determine how active the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season will be.

Threat level: Scientists have struggled to explain the long-lasting record ocean temperatures, because they have defied expectations from a combo of an El Niño event in the tropical Pacific Ocean plus climate change.

  • This has caused some researchers to question whether experts are missing something important that's taking place in the climate, calling into question future temperature projections.
  • Even if Atlantic Ocean temperatures were to increase at an unusually slow rate through the heart of the warm season, temperatures would still be well above average.
  • Seasonal forecasts for the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season so far call for an abnormally active to record active season, based on two main factors, with the sea surface temperatures being one of them.

What's next: NOAA will issue its official hurricane outlook this month, as the season officially starts on June 1.

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