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Wed Aug 28, 2019, 09:37 PM

Heatwaves in the Mediterranean Sea Are Bigger, Hotter and Last Longer (Haaretz)

Water temperature anomalies can cover half the Mediterranean basin and last for weeks, decimating animals and fish – but in deep water, it’s even worse, a new study shows
By Ruth Schuster Aug 28, 2019

Climate change is cooking our fish before they even leave the sea. Marine heatwaves on the surface of the Mediterranean are breaking records for temperature and duration. Surface heatwaves are affecting as much as half the Mediterranean basin and are wreaking ecological havoc, according to a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that looked at the period between 1982 and 2017.

...In 2003, terrestrial Europe experienced deadly heat that killed tens of thousands of people. At the same time, the Mediterranean Sea experienced a large-scale heatwave that decimated sponges, algae, and coral. It warmed the top 15 meters of the water, but was also detectable at 23 meters too.

...In early 2011, at the height of summer in the southern hemisphere, the west coast of Australia experienced a catastrophic heatwave that raised the ocean temperature from 2 to as much as 5 degrees Celsius (that at a depth of 10 meters!). At the time, it was the highest-magnitude warming event on record. The warming persisted for more than two and a half months, killing fish and bottom-dwelling invertebrates en masse. The seaweed canopy was devastated.

The role of global warming in the increasing frequency and intensification of marine hot spots is unproven but glaring. “Yes, indeed. It is very likely that global warming has an important role to play in the increase in the frequency, duration and intensity of the marine heatwaves,” said Sofia Darmaraki of Meteo France. “It has been shown in similar studies of marine heatwaves around the world.”


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