There’s A Record Breaking Marine Heatwave Off The Coast Of California


Credit: NOAA

An area of unusually warm water called a marine heatwave has spread all the way from Alaska to California. Marine heatwaves occur when ocean temperatures are much warmer than usual for an extended period of time. Last Thursday, the water in La Jolla, California reached 78.5 degrees. According to scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this was the highest water temperature ever recorded during the month of September since ocean temperature monitoring began in 1916. The warmest water temperature of all time was last August, when the water reached 79.5 degrees.

Scientists at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California are tracking the Northeast Pacific Marine Heatwave of 2019. They’ve measured sea surface temperatures as much as 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit above average.

The current heatwave is reminiscent of the 2014–16 marine heatwave known as “the Blob.” During that event, warmer ocean conditions created a harmful algal bloom, left lesser-quality food for young salmon, and stranded thousands of hungry young California sea lions on beaches.

As climate change continues unabated this type of warming event will certainly become more common.

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