Researchers have found that global warming is driving an unprecedented rise in sea temperatures, including in the Mediterranean sea.
Data from the European Union’s (EU) Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS) will increase concerns about the threat to the world’s seas and oceans from climate change.
The Ocean State Report revealed an overall trend globally of surface warming based on evidence from 1993 to 2018, with the largest rise in the Arctic Ocean.
“Changes to the ocean have impacted on these (ocean) ecosystem services and stretched them to unsustainable limits,” said study authors Karina von Schuckmann and Pierre-Yves Le Traon from the European Academy of Science.
According to the researchers, European seas experienced record high temperatures in 2018, a phenomenon which the researchers attribute to extreme weather conditions — a marine heatwave lasting several months.
In the same year, a large mass of warm water occurred in the northeast Pacific Ocean, according to the report. This was similar to a marine heatwave — dubbed ‘the Blob’ — which was first detected in 2013 and had devastating effects on marine life.
Now the study authors are calling for improved monitoring to provide better data and knowledge.
They argue this will help countries progress towards sustainable use of seas and oceans which are an essential source of food, energy, and other resources.
Findings from the report, published in the Journal of Operational Oceanography, confirm record rises in sea temperatures.
“More than ever a long term, comprehensive and systematic monitoring, assessment, and reporting of the ocean is required. This is to ensure sustainable science-based management of the ocean for societal benefit,” the study authors wrote.
The report identified other major strains on the world’s seas and oceans from climate change, including acidification caused by carbon dioxide uptake from the atmosphere, sea-level rise, loss of oxygen, and sea ice retreat.
Long-term evidence of global warming outlined in the report includes a decrease over 30 years of up to two days in the period of Baltic Sea ice cover and an acceleration in the global mean sea-level rise.
The report highlights that the message from recent EU and global assessments of the state of seas and oceans is ‘we are not doing well’.
“Human society has always been dependent on the seas. Failure to reach good environmental status for our seas and oceans is not an option,” they noted.