MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The first quarter of 2017 is now finished and climatologists are predicting another year full of extreme temperatures, as well as continuing decreases in sea ice and increases in coral bleaching.
The average temperature for the months of January, February, and March of this year are already warmer than the average of 2016 as a whole. Temperatures have been steadily increasing since the 1970s and the global temperatures have increased by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
The sea ice extent is also decreasing due to these increases in temperature. Earlier this year, we set a record for the least amount of sea ice during the time period where it is normally at its maximum.
Scientists aren't just looking at the amount of sea ice, but the volume as well. This depends on the extent of the seas ice, along with how thick the ice is. Dramatic falls in the volume have dropped sea ice almost 3,000 cubic kilometers almost every decade.
One effect of climate change we saw last year was the intense coral bleaching due to the strong El Nino event. This affected the Great Barrier Reef the most. With the increasing in temperatures, this is heating up the sea level temperatures as well.
When these temperatures get too high, coral bleaching is observed. Coral bleaching is now being observed during neutral El Nino conditions as well. At this rate, coral reefs will most likely not have enough time or cooler sea surface temperatures to recover.
This all means we could be in for the fourth year in a row of record temps globally, more ice melt and shrinkage as well as changes in ocean temperatures. While carbon may be a significant contributor, there are other possible contributors such as increases in methane gases from various sources and increased solar activity.
It will be interesting to see if our summer here in the Mid-South will be unseasonably hot too. For now, stay cool and do your best to take care of our earth.
Contributions to this story from our wonderful weather intern Kalie Pluchel.