Record extreme events seen during 2019 in the Mediterranean Sea

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Arctic ice levels logged in the last two years have reached record lows, whilst per decade have – on average since 1979 to 2020 – dropped by nearly 13%, a new vast report on the ocean worldwide shows.

Published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Operational Oceanography, the annual ‘Copernicus Ocean State Report’, draws upon expert analyses by more than 120 scientific experts from more than 30 European institutions.

Recognised as the reference point for the scientific community; national and international bodies; decisionmakers; blue economy actors; and the general public, this year’s crucial review (focused on results from 2019) shows unprecedented levels of impact of climate change.

The report, chaired by Mercator Ocean international (MOi), shows across the world issues are arising.

The warming of the Arctic Ocean is contributing to an estimated near 4% of the entire global ocean warming. A near 90% reduction of average sea ice thickness has been witnessed in the Barents Sea (a small part of the Arctic), which has led to a decrease in sea ice import from the polar basin.

In the North Sea, extreme variability from cold-spells and marine heatwaves has been linked to reported changes in catches of sole, European lobster, sea bass, red mullet, and edible crabs.

Whilst in the Mediterranean Sea, there were four consecutive record flooding events in Venice (November 2019), and higher-than-average wave heights in the southern Mediterranean (in 2019).

Globally, average sea temperatures went up at a rate of 0.015 celsius per year from 1993-2019, and oxygen levels (oxygen inventory) in the Black Sea dropped at a rate of -0.16 mol/m2/year from 1955-2019.

Summarising the international situation of the ocean, report chair Dr Karina von Schuckmann, of MOi, states a need for ongoing improved development and provision of state-of-the art ocean knowledge and products, in addition to regular monitoring through the EU-funded Copernicus.

Overall, the 185-page testimony provides a comprehensive, state-of-the-art, scientific report on the current conditions, natural variations, and ongoing changes in the global ocean and European regional seas.

Development of additional attributes for Indian Ocean Dipole monitoring, which reported strong events in 1997 and 2019 linked to droughts and extreme precipitation. An Invasive lionfish migration into the Ionian Sea in 2019.

In the Baltic Sea, there were unusual 2019 sea level and extreme wave conditions in the Gulf of Bothnia.


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