According to a study, marine heatwaves — or the ones that form on oceans — have been on the rise in the waters around India.
- Emerging studies have reported their occurrence and impacts in the global oceans, but are little understood in the tropical Indian Ocean.
- Also, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), the sea surface temperature over the Indian ocean is likely to increase by 1 to 2 °C when there is 1.5°C to 2°C global warming.
- The Western Indian Ocean region experienced the largest increase in marine heatwaves at a rate of about 1.5 events per decade, followed by the north Bay of Bengal at a rate of 0.5 events per decade.
- The marine heatwaves in the Western Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal increased drying conditions over the central Indian subcontinent.
- Correspondingly, there is a significant increase in the rainfall over south peninsular India in response to the heatwaves in the north Bay of Bengal.
- From 1982 to 2018, the Western Indian Ocean had a total of 66 events, while the Bay of Bengal had 94 events.
- These changes are in response to the modulation of the monsoon winds by the heatwaves.
- This is the first time that a study has demonstrated a close link between marine heatwaves and atmospheric circulation and rainfall
- Marine heatwaves are periods of extremely high temperatures in the ocean.
- These events are linked to coral bleaching, seagrass destruction, and loss of kelp forests, affecting the fisheries sector adversely.
- Study showed that 85% of the corals in the Gulf of Mannar near the Tamil Nadu coast got bleached after the marine heatwave in May 2020.
- The most common drivers of marine heatwaves include ocean currents which can build up areas of warm water and air-sea heat flux, or warming through the ocean surface from the atmosphere.
- Winds can enhance or suppress the warming in a marine heatwave, and climate modes like El Niño can change the likelihood of events occurring in certain regions.