Fires are plaguing the entire planet and if you think that the marine world cannot be burned by high temperatures, you are wrong. Heat is the biggest killer in the oceans and the world is currently facing record temperatures that are massively destroying the underwater ecosystem. According to ocean researcher David Diaz, heat waves in the oceans are “the equivalent of underwater wildfires, with fauna and flora dying just as if they had been burned.”
The Mediterranean is facing devastating temperatures
Above-average temperatures can permanently alter the marine ecosystem and cause mass extinctions. The heat has a big impact especially on the Mediterranean Sea, which has become extremely warm in the past month. Not only the sea water near the surface has warmed, but also the deeper layer of surface sea water.
As Reuters reported, “The warmer air along with shifting ocean currents and a stable sea surface have warmed coastal Mediterranean waters several degrees Celsius beyond the average temperature of 24°C to 26°C for this time of year.”
“Keep in mind water has more than 4X the heat capacity of air, which means it’s much harder for water to warm than air,” tweeted Colin McCarthy from his US StormWatch account. “A 6.2°C sea surface temperature anomaly in the Mediterranean is simply astonishing.”
Europe is not just experiencing heatwaves on land.
The Mediterranean Sea is experiencing a brutal marine heatwave this July, which will have devastating impacts on marine ecosystems while also enhancing heatwaves on land.
Water temperatures are as high as 6.2°C above normal! pic.twitter.com/AFqSz6BEMD
— US StormWatch (@US_Stormwatch) July 23, 2022
The Mediterranean Sea doesn’t get much attention because it makes up only 1% of the world’s ocean surface, but we can find 10% of all marine species here. There are around 20,000 species of marine flora and fauna. Populations of corals, molluscs and fish suffer the most from high temperatures in the oceans. When above-average temperatures in an area of the ocean last too long, life in that area dies out.
90% of the marine corals of the Mediterranean Sea have already died out
A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that marine heatwaves associated with the climate crisis have already destroyed up to 90% of coral populations in parts of the Mediterranean. Additionally, a World Wildlife Fund report last year “found that water temperatures in the Mediterranean were rising 20% faster than the global average, making it the world’s fastest-warming sea.”
What is the forecast for the future?
Marine heat waves are likely to recur more frequently and become more intense in the future. According to experts, the most effective way would be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming.
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