Climate Change Brings the Impact of Heat Waves Hitting the Seabed

Physicists at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in the United States discovered the serious impact of climate change on the oceans. They showed that heat waves would hit the bottom of Earth’s oceans. According to them, this could be a big problem for creatures that live under the sea. These so-called “seafloor heat waves” can be devastating because they last much longer than surface heat waves.

This heat wave affected many key species such as lobster and cod. This finding was described recently in Nature Communications under the title “Bottom marine heat waves along the continental shelves of North America”. A spike in surface water temperature can damage the marine ecosystem. For example, from 2013 to 2016, the water surface along the North American coastline warmed, a phenomenon known as a “flood”.

This incident caused the death of 1 million seabirds because their fish was badly affected. And now, something similar is seeping into deeper waters. “This is a global phenomenon,” lead author Dillon Amaya, a research scientist at NOAA’s Physical Science Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, told Live Science.

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This increase has contributed to a 50% heat wave in sea surface rise over the past decade. However, scientists don’t know how the depths of the oceans respond when surface temperatures soar. To understand how changes in atmospheric temperature affect the seafloor, scientists use existing measurements to simulate atmospheric conditions and ocean currents to “fill in the gaps” in inaccessible seafloor ecosystems.

These ecosystems are often inhabited by commercially caught lobsters, scallops, flounder, cod, and other creatures. Along the continental shelf near North America, seafloor heat waves last longer than similar heat waves on the surface, the researchers found. They also found that these temperature fluctuations can occur simultaneously on the sea surface and seafloor in the same location and are most common in shallow areas where the water of different levels can mix.

Warmer bottom water temperatures have previously been linked to increased populations of invasive lionfish and coral bleaching. Scientists don’t have a good enough picture yet to predict when and where a seafloor heat wave will occur. 

Source: National Geographic

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