Climate scientists have warned of “serious consequences” that threaten marine life and the environment in the countries of the Mediterranean basin after a series of strong heatwaves devastate the oceans.
The scientists said they have recorded an exceptional rise in temperatures ranging from 3 to 5 degrees Celsius above the normal range for this time of year.
The water temperature on some days regularly exceeded 30°C.
Temperature extremes in Europe and other Mediterranean countries hit the headlines this summer, “but rising sea temperatures haven’t lifted anyone,” scientists told the Associated Press.
Sea heat waves are longer, more frequent and more intense “due to anthropogenic climate change,” the agency said in a report.
“The situation is very alarming… we are going too far into the natural system, we must take action on climate issues as soon as possible,” said Joachim Garabo, a researcher at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Barcelona.
Garabo, one of a team of scientists, recently published a report on heatwaves in the Mediterranean between 2015 and 2019.
Garabo notes that the seas serve the Earth by absorbing 90% of the excess heat and 30% of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere during the extraction of coal, oil and gas.
This was possible because the oceans and seas were in good shape, Garbo said, “but now we’ve brought the ocean to a dysfunctional state.”
The report says these events have led to a “mass death” of marine species and have affected about 50 species of marine life, including coral reefs and algae, along thousands of kilometers of the Mediterranean coast, according to a study published in the journal Global Change Biology.
The document indicated that the situation in the eastern Mediterranean basin was particularly dire.
The waters off the coasts of Israel, Cyprus, Lebanon and Syria are “the hottest spot in the Mediterranean,” said Gil Riloff, a marine biologist at the Oceanographic and Lakes Research Institute in Israel and one of the paper’s authors.
The average summer sea temperature here is constantly above 31 degrees Celsius.
He said warming seas are pushing many species to the brink “because every summer the optimum temperature is exceeded.”
And while Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions must drastically reduce to contain rising sea temperatures, oceanographers are specifically looking for authorities to ensure that 30% of the sea’s areas are protected from human activities such as fishing, giving species a chance to recover and then reproduce.
About 8% of the Mediterranean area is reported to be currently protected.
Heatwaves occur when particularly hot weather lasts for a certain number of days with little to no rain or wind.
Earth’s heat waves help create marine heat waves, and they tend to “feed off” each other in a warm circuit.
Global heatwaves are becoming a common occurrence in many Mediterranean countries, with serious side effects such as wildfires, droughts, crop losses and dangerously high temperatures.
Scientists say that sea waves could also have serious consequences for countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and for more than 500 million people living there: “If action is not taken soon, fish stocks will be depleted and tourism will suffer, as destructive storms can become even more destructive.”
Source: Associated Press
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