Temperatures in the North and Baltic Seas are rising, endangering the marine world


The North and Baltic Seas have become significantly warmer in the past decades. The North Sea heated up by 1.3 degrees Celsius from 1969 to 2017, taking into account the mean surface temperature, as can be seen from the Federal Ministry of Transport’s answer to a written question from the parliamentary manager of the Greens parliamentary group, Steffi Lemke. Accordingly, a temperature increase of 0.6 degrees per decade, i.e. at least 1.8 degrees, has been measured in the western Baltic since 1982.

“The North and Baltic Seas are heating up at a worrying pace,” Lemke told dpa. If the temperature continues to rise, massive changes in the marine environment threaten in both seas. “Herring and cod are already fleeing to cooler waters towards the Arctic. This is just as dramatic for small-scale coastal fishing as it is for complex ecological cycles within our oceans.” Algae blooms could also increase further.

According to the ministry, a warm covering layer builds up in the North Sea even in deeper layers below 30 meters in spring. Seasonal warming can vary regionally and from year to year. Overall, the measurements of the stations within the North Sea for the past 30 years show a warming in the range between 0.5 and 2 degrees. For the German Bight, a warming of 1.4 degrees on the water surface and 1.6 degrees at a depth of 20 meters was measured from 1980 to 2015.

In the Baltic Sea, warming in the period 1980-2015 was 1.6 degrees on the surface and up to 1.9 degrees at a depth of 20 meters. There are regional differences here too. The “Oder Bank” area on the eastern German Baltic coast is heating up above average. The increasingly warm summers may have been particularly noticeable there due to the shallow water depths.

Lemke called for effective climate protection. “If we want to save our oceans, we need effective conservation areas where protected species can retreat and relax,” she said. Healthy seas could also contribute to climate protection. “This is how healthy seas store huge amounts of carbon and at the same time produce our air to breathe.”


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