Environmental science

New Worldwide Estimates of Coastal Heatwaves Predict Environmental and Economic Consequences

In recent years, marine heatwaves have caused significant biological disturbances throughout the Pacific coast, but scientists have built worldwide predictions that may offer up to a year’s warning of marine heatwaves, which are rapid and noticeable spikes in ocean temperatures that can have a significant impact on ocean ecosystems.

The forecasting method, which offers forecasts on maritime heat waves throughout the world up to a year in advance, was published in the scientific journal Nature on Wednesday.

New global forecasts for marine heat waves

(Photo : JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP via Getty Images)

The projections presented in Nature might assist fishing fleets, ocean management, and coastal communities in anticipating the consequences of marine heatwaves.

One such heatwave, dubbed “the Blob,” appeared about 2013 in the northeast Pacific Ocean and lasted until 2016.

It resulted in changing fish populations, hazardous algal blooms, an entanglement of endangered humpback whales, and the washing up of thousands of starving sea lion pups on beaches.

“We’ve seen marine heatwaves create abrupt and severe changes in ocean ecosystems all around the world,” said main author Michael Jacox, NOAA’s Physical Sciences Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, and a research scientist at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Monterey , California, as cited by ScienceDaily.

The improved projections, according to the researchers, might give critical information as climate change causes maritime heat waves to become more frequent and extreme.

According to Elliott Hazen, a co-author of the report and data analysis environmental scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Monterey, California that these marine heatwaves are the expressions of when natural variability meets anthropogenic climate change and results in these episodic but extreme events.

With maritime heat waves come new opportunities as well as new risks, as per the Seattle Times.

So read: Study Shows Drought Worsen Heatwaves, Making the Event Less Deadly

The reducing ecological and economic impacts

In the United States, West Coast maritime heatwaves acquired prominence after the 2014 Blob, which shook the California Current Ecosystem.

The maritime heatwave triggered an ecological cascade in which whale food was concentrated abnormally near shore, and a major bloom of poisonous algae along the coast delayed the start of the crucial Dungeness crab fishery.

Humpback whales have migrated closer to shore to eat in some of the same seas where crabs are caught.

Whales were entangled in record numbers in the lines linked to crab traps as fishermen attempted to make up for lost time following the delay by placing extra crab traps.

A recent study has also linked West Coast maritime heatwaves to a northward shift of California market squid.

Marine heatwaves are a recent occurrence about which scientists know nothing. According to Nick Bond, the Washington state climatologist at UW, the link between growing ocean temperatures and unexpected marine heatwaves, as well as their influence on terrestrial temperatures, is not entirely understood.

As the waters continue to warm, he predicts that these kinds of heatwaves will become more often and likely to be more severe.

Following the blob, NOAA created the Marine Heatwave Tracker, which looks for signs of a persistent heatwave in the northern Pacific coastal waters.

El Niño southern oscillation

Forecasts are most accurate during El Niño-Southern Oscillation periods, a well-known climatic phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean.

Indeed, El Niño (the warm phase of the oscillation) might be regarded as the “world’s most notable maritime heatwave,” according to Jacox.

It illustrates that heat waves are not new phenomena.

Forecasts cannot anticipate marine heatwaves as far in advance in areas such as the Mediterranean Sea or off the coast of the United States.

On the East Coast in certain places, the atmosphere, and seas are very faster.

The projections are most accurate in places with well-established ocean-climate patterns, such as the Indo-Pacific region north of Australia, the California Current System, and the northern Brazil Current.

Related article: Climate Experts Are Concerned About Heatwaves at Both Poles of the Earth

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