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Ocean Temperatures Highest In 30 Years

By:Hertha Ekandjo
Ocean temperatures are at their highest in years since 1991, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said in its recent report.
Recent observations have indicated that ocean temperatures have soared above 20 degrees Celsius.
“Over the last four months, the globe as a whole has seen a long period of unusually high Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs). Global average SSTs remained at record high levels for the time of year throughout April, May and June 2023, a situation that has continued into July 2023, with the largest SST anomaly for any July on record,” the report noted.
Global average SSTs are typically at their highest in March.
However, data from the European Union’s climate change service Copernicus have shown that, after an initial sharp rise in early March and a slight dip during April and May, SSTs have continued to rise to reach the highest value in the C3S ERA5 dataset, 20.96°C on 31 July.
The C3S noted that this is slightly above the previous record, from March 2016, of 20.95°C. As well as daily SSTs remaining consistently above average, this year has seen the largest SST anomaly by far for any July in the dataset. At 20.89°C, the monthly average SST was on par with March 2016 as the highest for all months in the ERA5 record.
It was also by far the highest on record for July, with an anomaly of 0.51°C.
“The high SSTs have coincided with the initial development of El Niño conditions. This naturally occurring climate pattern of warmer-than-average SSTs in the tropical Pacific leads to a higher likelihood of unusually warm temperatures across many parts of the planet.
“However, the current El Niño event is still in its early stages and high SSTs outside of the equatorial Pacific basin are also playing an important role. This is particularly true in the North Atlantic,” the report stated.
In June, exceptional SSTs and associated marine heatwaves were seen in large sectors of the North Atlantic, especially in the northeastern part.
Furthermore, it has been reported that temperatures in this region have remained much above average and, in July, unusually high SSTs also developed in the north-western Atlantic.
The C3S mentioned that during the second half of the month, daily anomalies in this area reached an unprecedented 6-8°C or more in some areas, with the anomaly for July as a whole reaching 4-5°C.
The unprecedented SSTs have been associated with marine heatwaves; periods of unusually high ocean temperatures. These can have significant and sometimes devastating impacts on ocean ecosystems and biodiversity and can lead to socio-economic impacts due to effects on fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, and other industries.
The marine heatwave that was affecting almost the entire tropical North Atlantic during June has continued through July.
In Swakopmund the average water temperature has been 13.63°C (56.54° F) for this week, higher than the average temperature of 13.46° C (56.23° F) and the temperature last year, in the same period, was 13.62° C (56.52° F).
The actual nearshore temperatures may vary by several degrees and this can also be heavily affected by weather. Strong winds can cause cold, deep waters to replace the surface waters that had been warmed by the sun, and heavy rain can also reduce the temperature of the sea surface as well.
The Fisheries Ministry’s chief scientist GracaD’Almeida says that rising ocean temperatures take time to create any kind of impact on marine life.
She further said that the species will be impacted differently and they do not either know whether its impact in the positive necessarily or in the negative is very difficult in an ocean.
“We have not seen those shifts when you have tropical species that now are taken over from our own species,” she said.

Hertha Ekandjo

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