Not just land heat waves: Oceans are in hot water, too

Source(s)
Associated Press

By Christina Larson

Even the oceans are breaking temperature records in this summer of heat waves.

Off the San Diego coast, scientists earlier this month recorded all-time high seawater temperatures since daily measurements began in 1916.

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Between 1982 and 2016, the number of “marine heat waves” roughly doubled, and likely will become more common and intense as the planet warms, a study released Wednesday found. Prolonged periods of extreme heat in the oceans can damage kelp forests and coral reefs, and harm fish and other marine life

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In 2016 and 2017, persistent high ocean temperatures off eastern Australia killed off as much as half of the shallow water corals of the Great Barrier Reef — with significant consequences for other creatures dependent upon the reef.

“One in every four fish in the ocean lives in or around coral reefs,” said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a marine biologist at the University of Queensland. “So much of the ocean’s biodiversity depends upon a fairly small amount of the ocean floor.”

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