According to a new study by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2017 was the hottest year ever recorded for the world’s oceans. And they aren’t likely to cool anytime soon.

Their findings indicate a “long-term warming trend driven by human activities.” Rising ocean temperatures result in less oxygen, which can have harmful consequences like coral reef bleaching and the melting of land and sea ice. And since water expands when it warms, it also contributes to sea-level rise.

The oceans absorb about a third of the world’s CO2 emissions and act as a thermal buffer, meaning they can store huge quantities of heat. In fact, upwards of 90% of Earth’s climate-related heat is absorbed by the oceans. It’s to some extent because of the oceans that climate change has not accelerated even further than it has today. According to another study from 2016, for every ton of CO2 not emitted, 32 square feet of Arctic ice could be saved.

Coral bleaching occurs when corals, stressed by heat increases, expel the algae they require to live, which in turn causes them to starve. Ocean acidification, exacerbated by increased CO2 levels from the burning of fossil fuels, also contributes to bleaching. Another study shows that the window to save our coral reefs is rapidly closing.

Learn more @ UN Climate Change