Why is it in the news?

According to an analysis by World Meteorological Organization agency, World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), there’s a 50-80 percent chance that marine heat waves affecting oceans globally, will extend to February 2024.

Marine Heatwaves

  • Marine heatwaves occur when ocean temperatures in a specific region are significantly higher than average for an extended period.
  • The intensity and widespread coverage of current marine heatwaves have been amplified by climate change.

Causes

  • Climate change intensifies and widens marine heatwaves.
  • Main causes include El Nino, North Atlantic Oscillation, and ocean heat absorption from human-induced global warming.

Impact

  • About 27% of the global ocean experienced marine heatwaves as of August 15, 2023.
  • Warming contributes to intensification and persistence of ocean temperature extremes.
  • Expected impacts on marine ecosystems and industries like fisheries and tourism.
  • Ocean heat fuels tropical cyclones, potentially leading to more intense storms.

Future Trends

  • Long-range forecasts predict continuing widespread warming.
  • Tropical Atlantic marine heatwaves have a 50-80% chance of persisting into boreal winter 2023.
  • Strengthening El Nino may increase marine heatwave risk along the United States west coast in boreal spring 2024.

Climate Change Connections

  • Ongoing global warming from greenhouse gas emissions is expected to increase the frequency, duration, and intensity of extreme ocean warming events.
  • Serious consequences for biodiversity and marine ecosystem structure and function if mitigation and adaptation efforts are not implemented.

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