Water-Related News

Marine heat waves are becoming more severe, scientists said at a recent Gulf of Mexico meeting

"The northern Gulf of Mexico has more intense marine heat waves than the southern Gulf of Mexico," said Brian Dzwonkowski with the University of Southern Alabama.

The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System hosted a discussion on marine heat waves during its recent annual fall meeting.

Zhankun Wang, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-National Centers for Environmental Information, was the first presenter.

He said marine heat waves have been getting more severe over the past 50 years, and that the Gulf’s surface is warming twice as much as the global ocean, but its deep-water temperature is comparable.

“The warming roughly started around the 1970s and it has been increased for more than one degree in the past 50 years from the 1970s to 2020. The linear warming rate is about .193 degree per decade in the Gulf of Mexico, which is much, much larger than the degree for the global ocean,” Wang said.

“The warming reading in the Gulf of Mexico at sea surface is about twice that of other global ocean, but the read is comparable to the warming we estimated from satellite observations reported in the literature.”

He said the biggest chunk of warming is occurring at the surface in the upper 50 meters, although there are also spiritual variations of the warming trend.

“In the upper 50 meters warming can be found everywhere in the Gulf of Mexico and the western Gulf of Mexico has a larger warming rate than the eastern Gulf below 500 until 600 meters," Wang said.