North Sea warming twice as fast as world’s oceans

North Sea

The average temperature of the North Sea has risen twice as fast as the oceans of the world. The changes are likely to alter the ecosystem and endanger indigenous fish such as cod.

Climate change has caused the North Sea’s temperature to increase twice as fast as that of the world’s oceans, according to Germany’s Environment Ministry.

The average temperature of the North Sea rose by 1.67 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 45 years, during which time the temperature of oceans such as the Pacific or Atlantic increased by 0.74 degrees Celsius on average.

That is according to an environment ministry response to a parliamentary question from the Green Party, the Neue Osnabrücker newspaper reported on Saturday.

The data is based on assessments up until 2010 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Alfred Wegener Institutes.

The German government warned that the North Sea’s temperature could rise by another 1.7 to 3.2 degrees Celsius by 2100.

The temperature increase could lead to the displacement of “indigenous species that fail to adapt,” it warned.

“The warming of the sea waters has repercussions for many types of marine organisms. Especially, species that are sensitive to temperature will vanish,” the Environment Ministry said.

As a result, cold-water species such as cod are likely to move further north after the degradation of their ecosystems and overfishing already hit populations.

As global warming speeds up, so does the rise in sea levels. While 2004 to 2010 saw oceans rise by about 15 millimeters in total, this value doubled for 2010 to 2016. Tropical regions in the western Pacific are especially affected, threatening many of the coastal areas and low-lying islands with submersion by the end of the century.

As ocean and atmospheric temperatures increase, glaciers and ice caps shrink in size. In 2016, the global sea ice extent was 4 million square kilometers (1.54 million square miles) below average. Consequently, more meltwater flows into rivers and oceans, which also causes sea levels to rise.

Some ocean regions have already warmed by more than 3 degrees Celsius, upsetting marine ecosystems. Seventy-two percent of demersal fish species in the northeast Atlantic Ocean have so far been affected, with warming limiting their abundance and spread. Species that live in tropical ocean waters, like the clownfish, are also experiencing habitat-related population decreases.

Warming and acidifying waters affect Nemo’s navigation senses, and also threaten his home – coral reefs, one of the most sensitive marine ecosystems. A water temperature increase of as much as 3 degrees Celsius can cause the death of corals and the marine animal species that live in them. Northern parts of Great Barrier Reef have seen coral mortality rates of 50 percent.

With increased ocean heat, extremely strong tropical storms are set to occur much more frequently. One of these massive storms was Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti in October 2016. The Haitian government put the official death toll at 546, and the hurricane also caused $15 billion (13.8 billion euros) in economic losses on the island nation and in the US, Cuba and the Bahamas.

There is a strong correlation between atmospheric wind patterns and ocean temperatures, meaning warming waters may also cause the jet stream to get stronger. This could affect airplane travel due to intensified head- and tailwinds. On the upside, this means that some flights may be much faster. On the downside, other flights may take longer and could experience more turbulence.

In its place, fish accustomed to warmer waters such as the red gurnard, striped mullet, sardines, anchovies and sea bass are likely to move into the North Sea’s once colder waters.

The impact of climate change on marine species also carries implications for fisheries.

The rising sea temperature is also expected to increase the intensity and frequency of storms along Germany’s low-lying North Sea coast.

The North Sea last year recorded its second-highest average temperature of 11 degrees Celsius. Only in 2014 was the average temperature higher, at 11.4 degrees Celsius.

 > Posted with permission from  EURONEWS

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