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Global warming at least doubled the probability of extreme ocean warming around Japan

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In the past decade, the marginal seas of Japan frequently experienced extremely high sea surface temperatures (SSTs). A new study led by National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) researchers revealed that the increased occurrence frequency of extreme ocean warming events since the 2000s is attributable to global warming due to industrialization.
October 7, 2022

In the past decade, the marginal seas of Japan frequently experienced extremely high sea surface temperatures (SSTs). A new study led by National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) researchers revealed that the increased occurrence frequency of extreme ocean warming events since the 2000s is attributable to global warming due to industrialization.

In August 2020, the southern area of Japan and the northwestern Pacific Ocean experienced unprecedentedly high SSTs, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). A recent study published in January 2021 revealed that the record-high northwestern Pacific SST observed in August 2020 could not be expected to occur without human-induced climate changes.
Since then, the JMA again announced that the record high SSTs were observed near Japan in July and October 2021 and from June to August 2022, but it remains unclear to what extent climate change has altered the occurrence likelihood of these regional extreme warming events.
“Impacts of global warming is not uniform, rather show regional and seasonal differences,” said a co-author Hideo Shiogama, the head of the Earth System Risk Assessment Section at Earth System Division, NIES.
“A comprehensive analysis on regional SSTs for a long period may provide a quantitative understanding of how much ocean condition near Japan has been and will be affected by global warming. This better informs policymakers to plan climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.”
The paper published in Geophysical Research Letters today figures out the contribution of global warming to discrete monthly extreme ocean warming events in Japan’s marginal seas, which could occur less than once per 20 years in the preindustrial era. A climate research group at NIES focused on ten monitoring areas operationally used by the JMA, including the Japan Sea, East China Sea, Okinawa Islands, east of Taiwan, and the Pacific coasts of Japan.

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