The WMO report said the highest rates of ocean warming are occurring in the southern ocean [File: Nic Bothma/EPA-EFE]

The United Nations has warned that ocean heat hit a record high last year, raising urgent new worries about the threat global warming is posing to marine life.

In its latest State of the Climate overview, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reaffirmed on Thursday that the last four years had been the hottest on record – figures previously announced in provisional drafts of the flagship report.

But the final version of the report highlighted concerning developments in other climate indicators beyond surface temperature.

“2018 saw new records for ocean heat content in the upper 700 metres,” a WMO statement said.

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