Science | July 29, 2022 11:20 am

Record High Temperatures Putting Mediterranean Ecosystems at Risk

An uneasy time for a biologically diverse region

Rising temperatures have also had an impact underwater.

If you’ve been following global news recently, you’re probably aware of the heat wave that recently struck much of Europe. What you might not have been as aware of, though, is the full scope of what that heat affected. Did it lead to damaging temperatures experienced on land? It sure did — but it also has had an alarming impact on marine ecosystems like those in the Mediterranean Sea.

“[I]f conditions become too harsh, the Mediterranean risks dying out.” That’s among the comments made by marine ecologist Emilie Villa quoted in a new article from The Guardian. The gist of that article? That rising temperatures in Europe have also caused water temperatures to heat up beyond what many species that live there can tolerate.

The article also quotes journalist Frédéric Denhez, who addressed the changes in temperature in a piece for BFMTV. “The Mediterranean is starting to resemble the Red Sea,” Denhez wrote, “and its species are not adapted to that.”

According to The Guardian‘s reporting, the increasing temperatures are having adverse effects on both fish and coral populations in the Mediterranean. Even before the heatwave, the UNEP had pointed to several reasons why the region’s aquatic ecosystems were at risk — including the presence of invasive species and the damaging effects of fishing.

It’s a region that is known for its biodiversity, which is one of the reasons that these recent reports are so concerning. If this summer’s weather is a preview of what we can expect in the years to come, it’s an unsettling trend for ecosystems throughout the region.