Global ocean record snowballs into 2024, major hurricane impacts looming

We take a look at the sea surface temperatures around the globe and what it might mean for the Atlantic hurricane season

In March 2023, we brought you the news about the world-record ocean temperatures on a global scale.

It’s time for an update. Here’s what you need to know.

DON’T MISS: El Niño is hanging strong—but a big change is on the way


The record continued through all of 2023, remaining above the previous decades of satellite data. And, not just by a fraction of a degree. Look at this chart below, and how much of a disconcerting outlier 2023 was –– sometimes as much as half a degree warmer than the previous record.

Global ocean temperatures peak in the early spring when the sun is beating over the equator and Southern Hemisphere, warming the Southern Hemisphere’s oceans. There’s substantially more ocean in the Southern Hemisphere than in the Northern Hemisphere. If you dropped a pin randomly in the Southern Hemisphere, there’s more than an 80 per cent chance it lands in the water. So, there’s a secondary peak typically late in the summer with the Northern Hemisphere’s contribution to the warming.


We are in uncharted waters through January when you look at the past 40 years of satellite temperature data.

A weakening El Niño will likely keep the temperature trend more linear in 2024, but expect the bulk of this year to remain above 2023’s record values.

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Closer to home

Even though the Atlantic hurricane season is months away, we can already give some long-term predictions on how the season will pan out.

Incredibly, we had 20 named storms in the Atlantic basin last year, a number that is unprecedented in such a strong Niño.

The warm waters acted like a counterbalance to the typically hostile hurricane conditions brought on by El Niño conditions.


We have a problem. La Niña is forecast to develop this summer, and that means a higher likelihood of an above-average hurricane season, irrespective of water temperature.

Here is the current North Atlantic water temperature. Yes, we’re at all-time warmth and at an average basin temperature typically found in mid-May.


La Niña and record-warm Atlantic temperatures will be a dangerous combination, as the lower amount of wind shear present in the atmosphere makes it easier for hurricanes to develop and sustain their structure.

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Ocean temperatures are also closely monitored when it comes to our seasonal forecasting. However, you will have to wait until Feb. 28 to get the official Spring Forecast details.