March 4, 2019
When deadly heat waves hit on land, we hear about them. But the oceans can have heat waves, too. They are now happening far more frequently than they did last century and are harming marine life, according to a new study.
The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, looked at the impact of marine heat waves on the diversity of life in the ocean. From coral reefs to kelp forests to sea grass beds, researchers found that these heat waves were destroying the framework of many ocean ecosystems.
Marine heat waves are said to occur when sea temperatures are much warmer than normal for at least five consecutive days.
Scientists estimate that the oceans have absorbed more than 90 percent of the heat trapped by excess greenhouse gases since midcentury. Humans have added these gases to the atmosphere largely by burning fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas, for energy.