MADRID – The summer of 2023 will be characterised by exceptionally high sea surface temperatures. Both the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean in the Northern Hemisphere have reached temperatures never before recorded.
Recent measurements show that the surface temperature of the Mediterranean Sea has peaked at 28.7°C, surpassing the previous record of 28.3°C from the summer of 2003. The remarkable thing is that this peak has already been reached in July, while the highest temperatures are usually measured at the end of August. This suggests that temperatures may rise even further, possibly above 29°C.
The heatwave of the Mediterranean Sea
These high temperatures can have a variety of consequences, ranging from an increase in atmospheric water content, which can lead to increased rainfall and storms, to risks to marine life. Moreover, the current situation is considered a heatwave in the Mediterranean.
Atlantic Ocean: also unprecedented temperatures
The Mediterranean is not alone in experiencing record temperatures. The Atlantic Ocean in the Northern Hemisphere has also reached temperatures never seen before. The average temperature was 24.9°C on July 25, equalling the record set in 2022. Furthermore, it is very likely that this temperature will be surpassed in the coming days.
On July 24, a temperature of 38.4°C was measured locally by a buoy in Manatee National Park in Florida, USA. This temperature is comparable to that of a jacuzzi and would be the highest surface temperature of seawater ever recorded.
What are the risks?
With current forecasts, the surface temperatures of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea are likely to continue to rise. Consequently, this also entails risks. Warmer water can contribute to the formation of more intense tropical systems that can also reach more northern regions than usual.
For the Mediterranean Sea, under the right atmospheric conditions, this could lead to heavier rainfall at the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. It could also create favourable conditions for the formation of tropical systems in the area, known as “medicanes”.
According to meteorologist Mario Picazo, this means that the sea “adds an enormous amount of water vapour to the region’s atmosphere”. As a result, this “creates the ideal weather conditions (such as those that characterise Atlantic hurricanes) for a full-fledged hurricane to pass through these waters,” he added.
El Mediterráneo un punto rojo del planeta que bate récords de temperatura y aporta una cantidad tremenda de vapor de agua a la atmósfera de la región. La anomalía histórica del mar en conjunto roza ya los +3C con un valor que ronda los 28C de media. Suficiente para que con las… pic.twitter.com/f43zReLAFN
— Mario Picazo (@picazomario) July 25, 2023