Scientists warn that rising water temperatures in parts of the Mediterranean are a creeping environmental disaster.
Many swimmers enjoy warming sea temperatures in the eastern Mediterranean, where the water temperature remains a constant at 31 degrees in summer.
The problem is that many animals and plants below the surface are being disturbed by “marine heat waves”.
While the extreme heat on land this summer has made headlines, little attention has been paid to the temperature in the ocean.
But recently, experts have reported temperatures between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius above normal in several places in the Mediterranean.
I have to do something
– We are pushing the system very hard, Joaquim Garabo, a researcher at the Polytechnic Institute of Barcelona, tells AP.
We must do something about the climate issue as soon as possible.
Mass death in the water
Together with colleagues, Garrabou studied marine heat waves in the Mediterranean in the years from 2015 to 2019.
It’s been five straight years with such warm water giving rise to MME – the English acronym for Mass Death Events, mass death in water.
The mass death affected thousands of kilometers of coastline, from sea level to a depth of 45 meters, the researchers wrote in a report published in the journal Global Change Biology.
About 50 species were affected, including corals, sponges, and seagrass.
Watch the video – this is how the temperature developed in the world:
From Turkey to Egypt
The situation in the eastern Mediterranean basin is considered particularly dangerous. Thus the extension is worse from Turkey in the north to Egypt in the south.
Among the study’s authors is Gil Riloff, a marine biologist at the IOLR (Israel Institute of Oceanography and Lakes Research) in Haifa.
– These are certainly the warmest regions of the warm Mediterranean, he tells the AP news agency.
Reloff says that although many species survive until now, they are under severe pressure.
Shows that comfortable temperatures are exceeded every summer.
Man-made climate change
Marine heat waves are caused by ocean currents building areas of warm water. Weather and temperature regimes in the atmosphere also contribute to the increase in water temperature.
Like heat waves on land, marine heat waves are longer, more frequent and intense due to human-caused climate change.
Garbo points out that the oceans served the planet by absorbing 90% of the Earth’s excess heat and 30% of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by producing coal, oil and gas.
Thus, the ocean has protected the planet from the most severe climatic influences.
– This was possible because we had sanitary conditions at sea, but now we see unsanitary and dysfunctional conditions, he warns.
Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions must fall dramatically if we are to reduce ocean warming.
You should get more protection
Marine scientists also call for the readiness of the authorities to protect large areas of the ocean from human activities, such as fishing.
Protection will give the species a chance to recover and thrive.
Researchers believe that about 30 percent of the Mediterranean should be protected, and today only about 8 percent is protected.
Warning from the future
What scientists now see happening in the far eastern Mediterranean gives a warning of what will happen in the future in the West.
Around countries such as Italy and Spain, the situation is not bad yet.
Garrabou and Rilov believe that politicians are largely unaware of the state of the Mediterranean and the significance of the changes.
It is our job as researchers to pass this on to the politicians, so that they get a basis for their decisions, he says.
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