Scientists issue dire warning over ocean heatwaves

| 13/03/2019 | 31 Comments
Cayman News Service

Dr Dan Smale

(CNS): The global ocean has warmed substantially over the past century and scientists are warning that this will have far-reaching implications for marine ecosystems and cause significant problems in the coming decades, economically and socially, around the world. New scientific research, the first of its kind, which was led by Dr Dan Smale from the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, UK, was published in Nature Climate Change last week and warns that extreme regional marine heatwaves are more intense and more frequent than ever and pose potential dire consequences.

While multiple regions are impacted, the researchers point to parts of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans as being particularly vulnerable because of high levels of biodiversity. Corals, seagrasses and kelps are at significant risk, the researchers found but note that entire ecosystems are going to be disrupted.

While Earth’s atmosphere has been getting warmer, the oceans have also seen unprecedented warming that is killing alarming amounts of ocean life. Smale and his team of international experts define these ocean heatwaves as periods when seawater temperatures exceed seasonally-varying thresholds by five consecutive days.

And not unlike wildfires burning through acres of forests on land, the increased sustained ocean temperatures kill large swaths of sea life and can have a tremendous impact on human populations.

Overall, the warming of the planet is increasing average ocean temperatures and the number of heatwave days has tripled in the past couple of years. The study notes that ocean heatwave days have increased more than 50% in the 30 years to 2016, compared to the period of 1925 to 1954.

Smale said that foundational species such as coral reefs, seagrass habitats and kelp forests are dying, and because they support the diversity of aquatic life by providing shelter from predators, moderating temperatures and acting as food sources, as they disappear the entire ecosystem disappears along with them.

“You have heatwave-induced wildfires that take out huge areas of forest, but this is happening underwater as well,” Smale said. “You see the kelp and seagrasses dying in front of you. Within weeks or months they are just gone, along hundreds of kilometres of coastline.”

The scientists stated that human-driven climate change is the cause of this pending disaster and these events will become more extreme and more common in future unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

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Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    “Life After People”. Watch it, on youtube. Nature really needs time to recover. Humanoids must go for that to happen.

  2. Anonymous says:

    No worries. We got jesus.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t be so certain about having Jesus 5:44. He does not stop flooding, tidal waves, 200 mph winds and earthquakes. Start thinking Bobo.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Want proof climate change is real? Coral bleaching wasn’t even a word when I was a child now it’s a yearly occurrence.

    Climate change is very real and it accelerates and increases exponentially. At some stage in the not so distant future we will go past the point of no return and the planet will be come uninhabitable.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, coral bleaching first occurred in the 19th century and as such the planet will soon be like Mars. Tin Foil hat time?

    • Anonymous says:

      Only idiots need proof.

      • Anonymous says:

        I ask a lot of people what they think about global warming and many people have doubts. These people are unconvinced and will speak with me because I do not engage in adolescent name calling.
        Sorry but no name for coral bleaching is not proof.
        I have spoken with farmers who have doubts about global warming.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t forget the Jesus freaks

  4. Anonymous says:

    So far the sea levels are not raising around the Brac, 60 years ago the water by the Coral Isle club was deeper than what it is now and what we call Sara rock by the edge of the Sea, is still by the edge of the Sea and the water is not no deeper by it than what it was 60 years ago.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ice caps are melting but the earth is absorbing the excess water so the sea levels aren’t rising… At some point the planet may become like a fully saturated sponge, and at that point the levels will begin to rise.

      • Anonymous says:

        Whether it’s too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too windy, too calm, more polar ice, less polar ice…it can all be conveniently explained away as global warming.
        We can now add, the earth is soaking up the water so we shouldn’t expect the scientists to be accurate with sea levels.

    • Anonymous says:

      you can’t buy ignorance like this.
      were does it mention sea level?
      did you even read it?
      can you read?

    • Anonymous says:

      Correct. Thank you for thinking critically and not just automatically swallowing this cult koolaid

    • Anonymous says:

      Wait, the sea is deeper at Coral Isle Club but not by Sara’s Rock? how is that possible?

      • Anonymous says:

        2:54 pm, some of the sand on the beach
        has washed out in the sea by Coral Isle, by Sara Rock its low ironshore no sand

  5. Anonymous says:

    I would also be very much interested to know how much they received in research grants.

    If you are panicked because of this, fear not. We will soon provide cult de-programming services coming soon.

  6. Anonymous says:

    climate change is beyond the grasp of the average caymanian…
    proof: when was the last time you heard a local politician adressing the issue of rising sea levels???
    scary level of ignorance and stupidity when you consider the elevations of this island.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rising sea levels have been talked about for decades and the only thing the Cayman Islands lost land mass to is erosion. No real sea level rise since this whole this started way back when.

    • Anonymous says:

      They would rather invest in history class stories to justify their claim on the island rather than do anything to save it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps they are not rising? If the Brac story holds water…

    • Anonymous says:

      Climate change is for pigeons like you to keep forking our carbon tax revenues. Pay up suckers!

  7. Anonymous says:

    man is destroying the earth and himself along with it…greed…self serving species

    • Anonymous says:

      If you want to be part of the solution you need to shut your computer down and live off the grid…

      • Anonymous says:

        @4:48 there are no places on earth left where one can escape 4G and soon 5G. Shutting down a computer, solves nothing. Please come up with something more practical or stop posting and ridiculing others.

    • Anonymous says:

      The same “man” are collecting trillions in carbon taxes globally, to fix the atmosphere…. think about that for a moment…

      They can’t stop a rain cloud from forming, but they can accurately tell you that NYC will be 20 feet underwater by 2100 and _they can fix it_

      Keep paying your carbon taxes suckers!!!

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