High temperatures recorded in Europe in July have triggered a marine heat wave in the Mediterranean that risks destroying ecosystems and species in the coming weeks, scientists warn.
Warmer air, ocean currents and stable sea surface contribute to Mediterranean coastal areas warming several degrees above the average temperature of 24°C to 26°C for this time of year .
The waters between Spain's Balearic Islands and the Italian coast are up to 5°C warmer than this time last year, Spanish weather agency AMET said on Friday, while warning that temperatures around the coast would be 3°C to 4°C higher until at least mid-August.
The Spanish Ports Authority said in a statement that the waters of Cabo de Gata, in the south-east of the country, recorded a ten-year record temperature of almost 28°C on Monday.
Increasingly frequent heat waves
Marine heatwaves, less noticeable than terrestrial heatwaves, are becoming more frequent due to climate change, threatening ecosystems already damaged by overfishing and plastic pollution.
The water temperature in Nice (Alpes-Maritimes) was measured at 29.2°C on June 25, about 3.5°C higher than the same day last year, said oceanologist Jean -Pierre Gattuso to Reuters. "This is an absolute record since at least 1994 and most likely before", he said.
"The ocean and the sea are like a sponge for the heat," explained the scientist.
Disappearances of ecosystems next month
Heat waves also occurred in the Mediterranean from 2015 to 2019, leading to massive losses in marine life, according to a study by Spain's Institute of Marine Sciences. "[La vague de chaleur cette année] is longer, and its magnitude is also greater", emphasizes Jean-Pierre Gattuso. The Disappearances"will likely occur later in August."