The bottom of the ocean experiences heatwaves, too. That might seem like common sense, but until recently, scientists weren’t aware that ocean heatwaves spread across the bottom of the ocean, too. Instead, they believed that they were only found on the surface. Thankfully new research has helped shed light on this important truth.
Scientists have spent the past decade observing and researching surface-level heatwaves in the ocean, completely unaware that those swelting and destroying changes could also be found deep beneath the surface. Discovering that these marine heatwaves also spread across the depths of the ocean is important, because changes in the ocean’s temperature can drive animals to extinction.
Back in 2013,, a heatwave known as the “The Blob”, which erupted off Alaska’s coast and spread as far as Mexico. The heatwave stuck around longer than scientists anticipated, leading to the destruction of fisheries and even triggering the spawn of toxic algal blossoms. Although it was crucial to monitor these changes closely, scientists didn’t know that heatwaves were spreading throughout the ocean bottom.
Now, though, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has created a new model which accounts for the heatwaves found along the bottom of the ocean, too. It’s much more difficult to monitor the temperatures down there, though, as it requires equipment that can detect the minute temperature changes while also surviving the pressure of the depth.
This new research is important because heatwaves found in the depths of the ocean last much longer than those on the surface – and if The Blob was able to cause such havoc when it stuck around longer than expected, imagine the damage that a massive heatwave at the ocean bottom could cause if it went unchecked and unknown. The results might be seen throughout the world, but humanity wouldn’t know what was causing it.
Now, with the help of the new model we will have some idea about what is going on deep below the surface. There’s likely still much we don’t understand. Scientists still find the ocean depths a fascinating place, particularly as we keep discovering strange creatures below the surface of the ocean.
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