If you surfed at some point this week along the Southern California coastline and thought to yourself, “Good god the water is warm,” that’s because it is. In some areas, the water is reaching balmy, record-level temps.
On Wednesday, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego recorded ocean temps at 79.2 degrees Fahrenheit – its highest registered ocean temperature since scientists have taken measurements off La Jolla Shores (which started back in 1916.) Temps in other nearby areas have even breached the 80-degree mark.
While ocean warming is normal at this time of year, these temps are about 7 to 8 degrees above average. So what the hell is going on? According to Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who spoke to Mashable, global warming isn’t keeping ocean temps cool, that’s for sure. But it’s not the only culprit. Here’s what the article had to say:
“The initial driver of Southern California's heating event, however, was weather. A big mass of warm air, or a high pressure system, has settled over the region, which has curbed the strong winds that blow from the north,” explained Willis.
“These winds usually push surface waters away from the coast, allowing cooler waters from the darker depths to well up. Global warming is really ocean warming. That process has turned off this year,” Willis continued.
In short, stagnate surface waters, which also recently absorbed heat from California’s hottest-ever recorded month, were then boosted by another couple of degrees Fahrenheit of background warming – that extra heat being trapped in the ocean from climate change,” explained Willis.
Turns out the warm water is doing more than letting surfers have a few trunkable sessions. High water temps can have a drastic effect on marine ecology, and scientists are already finding that kelp in certain areas is starting to disintegrate and jellyfish are just basking in the heat wave and proliferating like crazy.
Thanks to the nature of global warming, scientists are saying this likely won’t be the last summer where we see record-breaking water temps. So keep buying those bikinis and trunks – you’ll likely be needing them for years on end.
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