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Temperature surge in Mediterranean Sea
News: Extreme heat has plagued the Mediterranean for weeks ending with wildfires across nine countries in the region from Algeria to Greece. This has significantly impacted marine ecosystem as well.
Why high sea temperatures cause of worry for marine ecosystem?
• Reduced oxygen availability - Warmer water holds less dissolved oxygen than colder water, which means that marine animals have less oxygen to breathe and perform their vital functions. This can lead to suffocation, reduced growth, reproduction and survival of many species.
• Increased metabolism - Warmer water also increases the metabolic rate of marine animals, which means that they need more oxygen and food to maintain their body functions. This can create a mismatch between the demand and supply of resources, leading to starvation, stress and mortality.
• Coral bleaching - Corals are symbiotic organisms that host algae in their tissues, which provide them with food and give them their vibrant colors. When the water temperature rises beyond a certain threshold, corals expel their algae, losing their color and source of nutrition. This is known as coral bleaching, and it can lead to coral death if the stress persists for too long
• Algal blooms - Warmer water can also favor the growth of some types of algae, especially those that produce toxins or have harmful effects on other marine organisms. These are known as harmful algal blooms (HABs), and they can cause fish kills, shellfish poisoning, marine mammal deaths and human health problems.
• Shifts in distribution and phenology - As the water temperature changes, some marine species may move to different locations or depths to find more suitable conditions. This can alter the distribution and abundance of marine life, affecting the food web and the interactions among species.
What is the impact of extreme weather in Mediterranean sea for people?
• Fishermen are catching fewer familiar species and instead are finding more invasive fish which they have difficulty selling.
• Increase in invasive fishes and
• Habitat loss - It could also lead to an overall decline in fish populations, while disappearing seagrass.
Why Mediterranean Sea is significant for Global temperature?
The Mediterranean Sea is an important region for maintaining global temperatures because it acts as a heat sink and a heat source for the atmosphere and the ocean.
Heat Absorption and Release - The Mediterranean Sea has a lower heat capacity compared to the vast oceans, such as the Atlantic or Pacific. As a result, it heats up and cools down more quickly. During the summer months, the Mediterranean Sea absorbs heat from the sun, leading to warming of the surrounding land areas. In winter, it releases the stored heat, moderating temperatures in nearby regions.
The heat exchange between the Mediterranean Sea and the rest of the world affects the climate and weather patterns of Europe, Africa and Asia.
Warm and Dry Summers - The Mediterranean region experiences warm and dry summers, which are conducive to high evaporation rates from the sea's surface. This process results in the release of latent heat into the atmosphere, contributing to the warming of the air.
Atmospheric Circulation - The temperature contrast between the relatively warm Mediterranean Sea and the cooler landmasses during summer leads to the development of low-pressure systems over land. This creates a pressure gradient that drives winds from the sea to the land, bringing warm, moist air with it. This warm air can further increase temperatures over land areas.
Feedback Loops - The warming effect of the Mediterranean Sea can lead to feedback loops. Warmer land areas result in higher evaporation rates, which in turn contribute to the amplification of temperature rise. This cycle of heat absorption, release, and evaporation intensifies the Mediterranean Climate Amplification.