MARINE HEAT WAVES
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The current global situation of extreme heat waves, including the hottest June ever recorded and the likelihood of July becoming the warmest month in hundreds, if not thousands of years.
- June marked the planet's hottest ever recorded month, and July is on track to become the warmest in centuries or even millennia.
- Sweltering temperatures have led to extreme heat warnings, wildfires, and poor air quality globally.
- Ocean temperatures have also soared, leading to the occurrence of marine heat waves (MHWs) with devastating effects on marine ecosystems and human communities.
Understanding Marine Heat Waves
- MHWs are extreme weather events in which the sea surface temperature in a specific region rises to 3 or 4 degrees Celsius above the average for at least five days.
- These events can last for weeks, months, or even years, affecting marine life and coastal communities.
Impact on Marine Ecosystems
- An increase of 3 or 4 degrees Celsius in ocean temperatures can have catastrophic consequences for marine life.
- MHWs can cause fish kills, destroying kelp forests, and triggering coral bleaching events.
- Coral bleaching reduces the reproductive ability of corals, endangering marine species that rely on coral reefs for survival.
Marine Heat Waves and Invasive Species
- MHWs fuel the growth of invasive alien species, disrupting marine food webs and affecting wildlife.
- These events force species to change their behavior, leading to increased risks, such as whale entanglements in fishing gear.
Impact on Human Communities
- Higher ocean temperatures associated with MHWs can intensify storms like hurricanes and tropical cyclones.
- Storms traveling over warm oceans gather more water vapor and heat, resulting in stronger winds, heavier rainfall, and more flooding upon landfall, causing heightened devastation for human communities.
- Coastal communities reliant on coral reefs for food, income, and protection suffer socio-economic impacts when MHWs destroy these reefs.
Global Warming and MHWs
- A 2018 study reveals that global warming has led to longer-lasting, more frequent, and more intense MHWs in recent decades.
- 87% of MHWs can be attributed to human-induced warming, which is linked to the absorption of greenhouse gas-induced heat by the oceans.
- The increase in global mean sea surface temperature and the onset of El Niño conditions further exacerbate MHW occurrences.
Ominous Future Impact
- A combination of soaring global air and ocean temperatures, increased MHWs, and record low Antarctic ice-sea levels is creating an unprecedented future impact.
- Scientists express concerns about the unknown consequences of such occurrences.
Q) Marine heatwaves (MHWs) have emerged as a global concern, impacting marine ecosystems and coastal communities. Discuss the causes and consequences of MHWs, emphasizing their devastating effects on marine life, coral reefs, and coastal regions. (150 words)