New alarm on the front of climate change: in 2021 the temperatures of the ocean set a new record, reaching the hottest values ever measured for the sixth consecutive year; the Mediterranean is confirmed as the basin that warms up the fastest. This was stated by an international study according to which “the variation in the thermal content of the oceans in 2021 is equivalent to the energy that would be obtained by detonating 7 atomic bombs every second for the entire duration of the year”. The research was attended by 23 researchers from 14 institutions (including Ingv and Enea).
Researchers warn that the new record has been hit despite the phenomenon known as La Niña (which brings cold temperatures to the oceans) which has helped limit warming in the Pacific Ocean in 2021. The ocean, the researchers explain, “absorbs just under a third of the CO2 emitted by man but the heating of the water reduces the efficiency of this process, leaving a greater percentage in the atmosphere”. Monitoring changes in temperature and CO2 is needed “to arrive at a mitigation plan to limit the effects of climate change” underlines Simona Simoncelli of Ingv.
“As a consequence of the warming of the oceans – he continues – the volume and therefore the sea level is increasing with dramatic repercussions for example for the Pacific atolls and the Maldive islands but also for our coastal areas”. Ever warmer oceans “create the conditions for ever more violent and numerous storms and hurricanes, combined with periods of exaggerated heat in ever larger areas” in addition to the fact that “warmer water is less rich in oxygen and affects the food chain , just as water with higher acidity also has heavy effects on living forms “.
Franco Reseghetti, the Enea researcher who participated in the study, said he was “disconcerted and then disheartened” by the data that emerged during the last survey campaign, in mid-December 2021, in the Tyrrhenian Sea where ” a deeper area than in the past is also evident “. This hot water “began to ‘invade’ the Tyrrhenian Sea from the south, starting from the Egadi islands and the north-west coast of Sicily, and continued northwards, affecting an ever wider sea area and increasing depths”. Although unable to predict for 2022, Reseghetti explains that the energy that is accumulating in the Mediterranean can give “more and more often the origin of extreme weather episodes such as heat waves and violent precipitation phenomena previously unknown in these areas”. 2021 was a manifesto of all this: the heat in Sicily in August, the rain in Liguria, the ‘medicanes’, the Mediterranean hurricanes at the end of November again in Sicily. “The study was published in the journal” Advances in Atmospheric Sciences “, with the title” Another record: Ocean warming continues through 2021 Despite La Niña Conditions “.
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