The Mediterranean is enduring a marine heat wave (MHW) and the temperature on May 10 was four degrees higher than the average for the 1985-2005 period, according to the initial results of the CAREHeat project. The surface water temperature hit peaks of over 23° Celsius, according to the findings.
The project, financed by the European Space agency and featuring the participation of Italian research agencies ENEA and CNR, seeks to develop strategies to identify MHWs and determine their effect on marine ecosystems and economic activities such as fishing. The results confirm the findings of last month’s Mare Caldo (Hot Sea) report report by Greenpeace, which said Italy’s seas are feeling the effects of the climate crisis in a big way, with rising water temperatures causing drastic changes to marine biodiversity.
The second edition of the Mare Caldo report said species that are sensitive to the special nature of Italy’s seas are disappearing while species that are better suited to warmer waters, often alien ones, are proliferating. Among other things, this research detected an abnormal sea water “heat wave” in June 2020 off the island of Elba and in the protected marine area of Portofino, with temperatures climbing by 1.5 degrees centigrade from their monthly average within days and staying at that level for a period of three weeks. The climate crisis is also having a big impact on land in Italy, with the north and centre of the national hit by the worst drought in seven decades.
The government has decided to set up a special coordination group involving the regions worst-affected by the drought, the civil protection department and several ministers to examine responses, including new infrastructure, rationing and compensation for farms and other businesses affected.
The government looks set to grant requests from the hardest-hit regions for them to be declared in a state of emergency. The drought alert has spread from the Po valley, where waters are three quarters down amid the worst drought in 70 years, to central rivers like the Arno, the Aniene and the Tiber, which have half the water they normally do at this time of the year, officials said last week. The Po drought threatens over 30% of the national farm output.