Concerns about a marine life die-off later this year have been raised by ocean temperatures between the U.K. and Ireland that are almost 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) higher than long-term norms for this time of year.
According to satellite measurements, the unexpected marine heatwave was particularly severe near the normally cold northeastern coasts of Scotland and Ireland. Off the coasts of Poland and Germany, the Baltic Sea has shown similar extremes.
According to Craig Donlon of the European Space Agency (ESA), an expert in earth observation, the current maritime heatwave is classified by climate scientists as an extreme to beyond-extreme category IV or V, which is incredibly unusual for this time of year.
Donlon stated in a statement from the ESA that “extreme marine heatwaves are not an everyday event in U.K. waters.” Satellite data, in conjunction with ground data, will enable us to document the effects of this marine heatwave, including stress on the marine ecosystem, the impact on industries like aquaculture and fisheries, modification of local wind patterns, and potentially forthcoming rainfall events.
A sequence of increasing temperatures across the North Atlantic ocean that started in April has culminated in the current heatwave. Ocean temperatures in the North Atlantic for the month of May reached an average 2.25 degrees Fahrenheit (1.25 degrees Celsius) above the mean values for the 1961 to 1990 time period, according to the U.K. weather forecasting agency Met Office. This was the warmest May on record since records began in 1850.
The surprise warming, according to professor Albert Klein Tank, head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, was caused by abnormally calm winds across the ocean.
According to Tank in a statement from the Met Office, airborne dust from the Sahara usually helps to cool this region by blocking and reflecting some of the sun’s energy. However, weaker than usual winds have decreased the amount of dust in the region’s atmosphere, potentially resulting in higher temperatures.
Additionally, June is shaping up to be one of the warmest on record worldwide, which is fueling the warming waters.
The North Atlantic maritime heatwave begins at the same time as the warming El Niño phenomenon, which has recently arisen in the Pacific but typically has global repercussions. Scientists are concerned that this summer could be difficult due to additional weather extremes, and that the current intense maritime heatwave may only be the beginning.
Given that the current increased surface heating will eventually mix with the ocean water column, Donlon added, “this is a really startling global situation.” “Some of this extra heat will enter the Arctic Ocean through the Norwegian Sea and Fram Strait, accelerating the melting of the Arctic sea ice. We will be paying close attention to how each of these features develops.
The exceptionally warm sea temperatures might have catastrophic effects on the marine ecology in the waters off the coast of the United Kingdom, according to Jules Kajtar of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, the United Kingdom.
He explained, “The environment has never encountered these temperatures at this time of year, which is why we are concerned. “Warming oceans can increase water acidity and cause a drop in water oxygen levels.”