Claim: The Red Sea is warming faster than the global average

From KING ABDULLAH UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY (KAUST) and the “turbidity and albedo, what’s that?” department.

“The global rate of ocean warming has many consequences for life on this planet. Now we are learning that the Red Sea is warming even faster than the global average,” says KAUST PhD student of marine science, Veronica Chaidez.

The analyses, conducted by a multidisciplinary team spanning all three divisions at KAUST, provide vital data that could help predict the future of the Red Sea’s marine biodiversity when supplemented by evidence to be gathered on the thermal limits of local organisms.

Analyses of satellite sensing data from 1982 to 2015 show that the Red Sea’s maximum surface temperatures have increased at a rate of 0.17 ± 0.07°C per decade, exceeding the global ocean warming rate of 0.11°C per decade. Maximum sea-surface temperatures were found to increase from north to south along the Red Sea basin, with the coolest temperatures located in the gulfs of Suez and Aqaba in the far North. These two gulfs, however, are showing the highest rates of change compared to the rest of the basin at 0.40-0.45°C per decade; four times faster than the mean global ocean warming rate.

The mean maximum annual temperatures increase gradually from the north of the Red Sea to its south. CREDIT Reproduced with permission from reference © 2017 Nature Publishing Group

The Northern Red Sea experiences maximum temperatures throughout July, while the Southern Red Sea is warmest from late July to mid-August. Interestingly, sea-surface temperatures reached their maximum in an area on the Eastern coast of the Red Sea, about 200km south of Jeddah, from mid-August to early September. This anomaly may be caused by the unique wind patterns in this region.

Maximum surface temperatures are also recorded about a quarter of a day earlier per decade.

Systematic monitoring efforts are needed to assess the impacts of these rapid warming rates on coral bleaching and mass marine organism mortality events, adds Chaidez. Currently, no such monitoring exists in the Red Sea, but Chaidez is testing the thermal capacities of some of the basin’s plants and animals in her laboratory. A model that incorporates data on temperatures, organism thermal limits, and other relevant biological data could help predict impacts of warming on the local ecosystem.

Evidence suggests that warm temperatures in the Red Sea are already challenging the capacity of its marine organisms to adapt and survive. Marine organisms generally adapt to rising ocean temperatures by migrating toward the poles. This is not an easy migration in the Red Sea since it is a semi-enclosed space, rendering its organisms vulnerable.

###

The paper (open access): https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-08146-z

Abstract

Ocean warming is a major consequence of climate change, with the surface of the ocean having warmed by 0.11 °C decade−1 over the last 50 years and is estimated to continue to warm by an additional 0.6 – 2.0 °C before the end of the century1. However, there is considerable variability in the rates experienced by different ocean regions, so understanding regional trends is important to inform on possible stresses for marine organisms, particularly in warm seas where organisms may be already operating in the high end of their thermal tolerance. Although the Red Sea is one of the warmest ecosystems on earth, its historical warming trends and thermal evolution remain largely understudied. We characterized the Red Sea’s thermal regimes at the basin scale, with a focus on the spatial distribution and changes over time of sea surface temperature maxima, using remotely sensed sea surface temperature data from 1982 – 2015. The overall rate of warming for the Red Sea is 0.17 ± 0.07 °C decade−1, while the northern Red Sea is warming between 0.40 and 0.45 °C decade−1, all exceeding the global rate. Our findings show that the Red Sea is fast warming, which may in the future challenge its organisms and communities.

Data Availability

The data set supporting the analysis presented here can be found in the Pangaea open data repository: (Chaidez et al. 2017, http://www.pangaea.de)48.

From the paper:

(a) Decadal rates of warming (°C decade−1) and (b) change in timing (days decade−1) of mean maximum annual temperature (Tmax) across the Red Sea. Image created using R (v3.3.1, http://www.R-project.org)45 including packages: ggplot246 and rasterVis47, RStudio (v1.0.143, http://www.rstudio.com), and InkScape (v0.91, http://www.inkscape.org).

Given the localized warming patterns in that figure, it looks like a turbidity/albedo issue from human effluent and agricultural runoff. They don’t even mention the word “turbidity” or “albedo” in the paper, preferring to go straight to blaming “climate change”.

Ocean warming is a major consequence of climate change…

Sad that they didn’t think to investigate this possibility of turbidity/albedo changes. It might be because: “… the author PhD student of marine science, Veronica Chaidez“. The oversight falls on her adviser then. I wouldn’t call this paper good science because science demands that you look at all the possibilities, and rule them out before making a conclusion. I’ll give her points though for making the dataset available.

 

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92 thoughts on “Claim: The Red Sea is warming faster than the global average

    • It’s also shock at something that is absolutely normal.
      Even assuming the earth is warming, why would anyone assume that the entire planet would warm at exactly the same rate?
      Also, wouldn’t shallow seas be expected to warm faster, regardless of the cause of the warming, than deeper oceans?

      • Like the Gulf, the Red Sea is less deep than the oceans. The sea’s ability in this area to absorb heat into its depth is therefore less than that of the oceans covering 2/3rd of the Earth’s surface. Given a constant density of solar energy reaching the sun across the 90 degree surface presented to the sun, then more solar energy reaches this area than sea and land areas which are further away from the equator, i.e the majority of the rest of the earth’s surface.
        Is it therefore no wonder that the Red Sea temperature rise is greater than the Earth’s average temperature rise?

    • Isn’t this an example of neglecting the null hypothesis to only consider the alternative hypothesis?

      • It seems to me that the cloudiness is an important factor when claiming the seas are warming. If the cloudiness is abnormally or cyclically low, then of course the water will warm. The Red Sea is not warmed by CO2, it is warmed by the sun.

        Turbidity changes would be overwhelmed by any drop in cloud cover.

        The reference to corals bleaching is a red herring. There are corals in that region that can survive up to 40 degree water. Symbiotes can move around quite quickly.

      • The Red Sea is an anomalous sea, Why ? Because it is a rifting-related sea. The Seafloor is opening at a depth of 2000 m along the centre. There are at least 22 known cauldrons of hot water at this depth. The mantle is exposed to the deep water. Its temperature is 1100 degrees C. The water has locally temperatures of more than 60 degrees C at between 1900 and 2000 m depth.

        I don’t think it is reasonable to believe that the Red Sea is currently affected by atmospheric climate change…

      • Nile River [that divides Ethiopia from Eritria (originally part of Ethiopia) water flows in to Red Sea on the north. Southern side on either side dry areas are located — Ethiopia and Gulf.

        Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

      • Red Sea temp increase 1.7°C+/- 0.7°C doesn’t seem significantly different from 1.1°C of global ocean rate.

  1. Is there a body of water that is warming by less than the global average? Otherwise, this seems like the Lake Wobegon syndrome.

    Who, What, When, Where, Why? I don’t see any answer to the question why.

    • I was thinking along similar lines. Isn’t that what an average is? Some values fall below, some values fall above the average and some are very close to the average. All of them would not be the same because, well it would not be an average right? So the Red Sea is above the average, so will some others be too, and as you say some are or should be below the average. Where are those? My guess they are not interested in those…

  2. The air does not warm the ocean. The heat capacity of the ocean is 999 × the air. The ocean controls the temperature of the air.

      • MarkW,

        Whereas this is true, isn’t it mostly irrelevant to the topic at hand? Isn’t the mechanism by which the overwhelming majority of cooling (from bodies of water) occurs the evaporation/precipitation cycle? I assume that the fear of CO2 creating a heated ocean rests upon the idea that oceans will cool less due to a net reduction in radiated heat (i.e. from backradiation). But, since this is a miniscule measure of total cooling, just how significant is it?

        rip

      • Air’s ability to hold water is dictated by it’s temperature.
        If the air warms up by one degree, there will be a brief surge of evaporation until the relative humidity returns to where it was before the air warmed.
        After that, it’s relative temperature alone that dictates how fast heat moves out of the oceans.

    • I have heard anywhere from 1000-100000x the heat carrying capacity of the atmosphere. Does anyone have a good reference?

      • It is 1000 because a cubic metre of air weighs about 1.2 kg and a cubic metre of sea water weighs about 1000 kg. So 1000 is close enough for government work.

  3. “Analyses of satellite sensing data from 1982 to 2015 show that the Red Sea’s maximum surface temperatures have increased at a rate of 0.17 ± 0.07°C per decade, exceeding the global ocean warming rate of 0.11°C per decade.”

    It is not like this very minute amount of warming in the Red Sea represents any immediate ocean life altering consequences. The error is even within the bounds of the global warming ocean warming rate. Even if the Red Sea is warming, it would sort of make sense that it would warm more than an open ocean because the Red Sea is very isolated from ocean currents and is very smallish compared to an open ocean also. Plus, the Red Sea is fairly shallow on both coasts, which are quite long relative to its total average width making for more surface area to be warmed by solar insolation relative to its entire volume. This would account for some warming over and above a very large ocean expanse, which is not as constrained as the Red Sea is. Salinity is also much higher than a regular wide open ocean, due to a lot of evaporation.

    I think there are a lot of things unaccounted for here, including turbidity/albedo changes, and a dozen other issues we haven’t even thought of. Keep an honest and accurate temperature record, and it will all make sense over time.

  4. The red sea is full of oil slicks and illegally dumped liquid garbage and naturally concentrates.. duh!

  5. Of course it wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that the Red Sea is actively rifting to oceanic crust with high heat flow….?

    • The Red Sea fills a volcanic rift system with numerous active and very recent underwater volcanic eruptions occurring along the central axis of the sea, especially in the south. Of course the water temperature will be affected by this magma.

  6. Maybe a quick look at how marine life is surviving in the very much shallower, higher salinity, significantly warmer and similarly constrained Arabian (Persian) Gulf would help assuage their fears, poor souls. The latter has an average depth of ~50 metres (90 metre max) and is a bit like a warm bath in summer time. The Red Sea on the other hand is ~500 metres deep on average and ~2000 metres at its deepest point. Last time I looked, the Arabian Gulf was swarming with all manner of corals, crustaceans & fish despite water temperatures close to 100 deg.F!

  7. How the hell do you resolve a trend of 0.2C per decade, representing a change in emitted power of about 0.3% per decade, when most of the data used is barely good to within 10% and the rest is even worse?

    Moreover; where’e the alarm? The RMS variability in the average temperature of long term averages (decades+) extracted from the ice cores (natural variability) is virtually the same as the reported change in short term averages.

      • Oh Christ. You’re welcome in Finland, to measure a lake temp. Lets do it in January. I expect you to test the lukewarm water like me, with your balls. Should you be female, I’ll be wearing a swimsuit.

        I’ll pay your trips in country and staying, if you pay the flights.

      • We can measure the super hot Baltic Sea as well. It is colder than lakes in the summer, and just horrible in the winter.

    • That isn’t too surprising since water bodies tend to warm more rapidly if they are shallow. They have less mass to heat, and if the bottoms are dark, the sunlight will be absorbed there, instead of through a long water column. What is interesting is that there is a suggestion that insolation is more important than air temperature. While one might speculate that the water bodies aren’t cooling as much at night as they formerly did, that should also be true of the oceans. If it is becoming less cloudy, that would explain both lakes warming more and glaciers retreating more.

  8. WOW.

    Warming in the NH did you say

    ….. now when was that start date again.?

    Around 1979, 1980 did you say ??????

      • Scales would be different for each part.

        Its the coincidence and the pattern, with the extreme low in the mid-late 1970’s, that I was trying to draw attention to.

      • ie, its an AMO thing !!

        like this temperature at Reykjavik vs AMO, different ranges because one is land and one is sea, but its the pattern match and where the low points are. This is the reason the alarmista scåmmers always seem to want to start ion the late 1970’s. (funny å to avoid auto-mod)

    • Andy
      Please could you please explain AIr atmospheric pressure – sub Antarctic in detail
      Thank you

  9. Unless everything, everywhere in the world warms or cools at exactly the same rate, that’s proof that CO2 is the cause.
    If everything does warm or cool at exactly the same rate, that’s also proof that CO2 is the cause.

  10. 0.17 +/- 0.07 – now that’s the kind of margin of error that makes me believe I can trust the results.

    Wait, the global warming is 0.11 +/- ?.

    So both measurements overlap, which means…

    • 0.17 +/- 0.07

      That’s what I thought out after reading this. So in fact using .17-.07= .10 vs .11 means it is actually COOLING faster than the normal average.

      Maybe the headline should be “The Red Sea is warming or cooling faster than the global average” to be in sync with the CAGW crowd double-speak.

    • Much like the +/- 50% uncertainty in the ‘settled’ climate sensitivity of 0.8C +/- 0.4C per W/m^2 which doesn’t even include all the additional uncertainty added from the fabricated RCP scenarios. Making this so much worse is that despite all the uncertainty, the low end of the IPCC estimate isn’t even low enough to overlap with the measured reality of about 0.25C +/- .05C per W/m^2.

      It turns out that IPCC needs a lot of obfuscation and uncertainty in order to keep the their self serving consensus from collapsing. Take away the uncertainty and there’s no overlap with the massive effect required to justify their existence. This is why they must keep people from discovering the truth.

      The only thing a self serving bureaucracy like the IPCC is good at, is preserving its funding and existence and I have to admit that they’ve done a stellar job at maintaining confusion in order to preserve their agenda. It’s just too bad that there are so many weak minded people out there who buy the BS hook like and sinker because their political party tells them to.

  11. Well it is ninja heat. You never know when, where, or how it will manifest itself. The beauty of it is that ninja heat can’t be measured. But we know it’s there.

  12. Red Sea is a rift valley that has been flooded by ocean. There is 140 F hot brine at the bottom, where the crust is pulling apart. I would think it would be warm….

  13. Isn’t what they are really saying “our measurements run hotter than their measurements” — where measurements are imperfect samplings of reality?

    • Yes. Absolutely. But, like the warming Antarctic peninsula, volcanoes and active spreading centers are not part of global warming narrative and, therefore, cannot be considered a potential cause of anomalous Warming.

      • Also, look for a “study” that will report the Gulf of California is warming faster than the rest of the globe.

    • ZB – I thought about commenting on active volcanism being a factor. I soon realised that – if you want it to be a factor in warming the Red Sea, you would have to adduce evidence that volcanism is increasing in the region. So it’s not a very good response.

      On the other hand, for volcanism NOT to be a factor in warming the Red Sea, those promoting the warmist agenda would have to adduce evidence that volcanism is NOT increasing in the region.

      Jumping to conclusions without having all the data (or even comprehending what kinds of data might exist) seems to be a characteristic of climate science. No surprise there.

  14. ” Marine organisms generally adapt to rising ocean temperatures by migrating toward the poles.”

    This is the 1st time I have seen any mention that life can adapt to climate change by moving to a better locale. I think they only bring up that possibility because they think it is precluded in this particular case. This admission shows the probability of life relocating to stay within a preferred habitat was always known, just not admitted.

    SR

    • Well, my family, over the course of 100+ years, moved from coastal northern Portugal to southern New England, and then to coastal southern California. The first move across the Atlantic was politically driven (revolutions and all that), but the second was environmental, with the family ending up in a climate very similar to the one it originally vacated. So there you have it. ;)

  15. “the Red Sea is warming even faster than the global average”

    As a non-scientist my understanding of averages is that half the data points will be above average and half below average, and so there is no obvious cause of alarm. The fact that the Red Sea is in the above average half of the table raised the scientific question of why it would be there, in the same way that i’d be interested in why bodies of water in the below average section are there, but the choice of the alarmist phrase “even faster” moves the paper from science to propaganda.

    • Not necessarily true, Roy! Back in 2009 – 2010 I printed and took to my lunch group a batch of studies that showed rising temperatures. The only area on the planet that did not show much faster than average rises was a relatively small area in South America. Or at least, I didn’t have a study on that area.
      I just wanted my buddies, all CAGW believers, to explain how all but a very small area of the planet was rising – usually much faster – than the average rise for the planet. They couldn’t do it, of course. We were STEM graduates working in engineering.
      They could only say that, yeah, there were those out there who exaggerated. But overall, we’re all going to die from heat stress – soon.
      Hey, you takes your victories where you find them.

  16. There should be tons of sea surface temperatures from the Red sea, starting from the opening of the Suez channel. A long time series check would be welcome and not too difficult to obtain.

  17. Smart move if they wanted a career in climate ‘science’
    Make sure you start with the results you need and find the data to support it.

  18. If shallow bodies of water are warming faster than deep ones, this is a strong indication that the warming was being caused by more sunshine. Either more light from the sun (unlikely) or fewer clouds.

  19. If they want to talk about how the “red sea” is warming relative to larger body of waters, wouldn’t it make sense to compare the actual water rather than just the sea surface temperatures?

  20. Before the ‘Anthropocene’ I had students in an ecology and evolution class (sophomore level) analyze a paper of their choice, subject to veto. The important thing was for the student to analyze the analysis because no one could be much of an expert, particularly at that level, on the subject of the paper. In more advanced classes better understanding was expected, requiring more than one paper. Two obviously easy things in the paper are examples of something a good student would have caught as some did.

    “During the years 1997–1998, one of the strongest El Niño events occurred, while 2000–2001 was considered a weak La Niña event35.
    35.Hjelle, B. & Glass, G. E. Outbreak of hantavirus infection in the four corners region of the United States in the wake of the 1997-1998 El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The Journal of Infectious Diseases 181, 1569–1573 (2000).”

    While one always likes students doing widespread checking Citation 35 used a terrestrial relationship of epidemiology to verify a physical oceanic event.

    Secondly, the first sentence of the abstract is of no use unless climate can only change as noted—“Ocean warming is a major consequence of climate change,…”
    These examples show the reviewers and editors of Nature are not very rigorous. This is a very interesting place with some study and some of this seems at first glance reasonable, but I would certainly check to see if there is more information on maximum thermal limits which has a big literature.

    • Volcanoes are notorious for exhaling CO2 and there are active volcanoes in the Salton Sea. And a geothermal power generating plant that must also be churning out CO2. By the same token, the geothermal plant is hailed as a ‘green’ generator of electricity … go figure.

    • Volcanoes are notorious for exhaling CO2 and there are active volcanoes in the Salton Sea. And a geothermal power generating plant that must also be churning out CO2. By the same token, the geothermal plant is hailed as a ‘green’ generator of electricity … go figure.

  21. change in albedo?

    That’s easy to check…

    …… program running……

    Nope. No change.

    Before you speculate that it Might be turbidity,
    or that it might be albedo
    or that it might be unicorns…

    you check.

    She gets to put forward her thesis. If you think it could be unicorns or albedo or Anything BUT climate change, you get to check your own speculation.

    Albedo.. go get the dataset, check

  22. Would it not be more accurate to say that climate change is major consequence of ocean warming? It is weather trends that climate is derived from. Climate doesn’t change the weather – it is a consequence of weather.

    • Googling ‘List of Earthquakes in the Red Sea’ a few minutes ago led me to –
      https://earthquaketrack.com/r/red-sea/recent
      This site lists the following: –

      4 months ago 4.4 magnitude, 10 km depth
      Jeddah, Makkah, Saudi Arabia

      6 months ago 4.6 magnitude, 11 km depth
      Red Sea

      2 years ago 4.4 magnitude, 10 km depth
      Tokār, Red Sea, Sudan

      2 years ago 4.8 magnitude, 10 km depth
      Red Sea

      2 years ago 4.3 magnitude, 10 km depth
      Massawa, Northern Red Sea Region, Eritrea

      2 years ago 4.5 magnitude, 10 km depth
      Red Sea

      2 years ago 4.2 magnitude, 10 km depth
      Red Sea

      2 years ago 4.1 magnitude, 18 km depth
      Red Sea

      2 years ago 4.4 magnitude, 10 km depth
      Tokār, Red Sea, Sudan

      2 years ago 4.7 magnitude, 11 km depth
      Ad Darb, Jizan, Saudi Arabia

      So several since 2010, albeit mostly between 4 and 4.8.

      Auto

  23. It seems they have done some good data gathering. Figure 6 in the paper shows that when ocean surface temperatures are higher, the Red Sea surface temperatures are higher. They’ve also found that a smaller body of water warms more than a much larger body of water. These things seem like they are “Well, duh” facts, but once in a while things aren’t as expected, so it’s fine that they looked at it if that’s what makes them happy.
    Of course, relating it to a doomsday scenario is a little tougher. From the paper:
    “Systematic monitoring efforts are required to detect the effect of heat anomalies on marine organisms, such as bleaching and mass mortality events36. Unfortunately, there is no systematic monitoring of biological events in the Red Sea, such as bleaching events, which may be affected by thermal anomalies such as those reported here.”
    Although they now cannot detect anything, it seems like they might be willing to spend a lot of time monitoring effects of heat on marine organisms looking for problems.
    Again, it adds a tiny bit to the body of knowledge of the human race , but unlikely to have an effect on any person’s life other than their own.

  24. It’s a possibility, but not due to the atmosphere. There is significant geological activity in that region. The whole region is being pulled apart and is sinking. The Afar region in north east Ethiopia is the hottest place on earth. Salt is still “farmed” and traded there. The whole region will become a massive inland sea. So geothermal activity will be the cause of any water heating, not CO2 in air above it.

  25. For “climate change”, code for increasing CO2, to be warming the Red Sea; the warming would have to be even and smoothe. CO2 mixes very efficiently in both air and water. Their own map is extremely uneven in both warming and timing.

  26. “it looks like a turbidity/albedo issue from human effluent and agricultural runoff”

    Hmmm

    Agriculture, let alone run off, is surely quite scarce along the desert/arid regions fringing the Red Sea?

    and there are few major population centres likely to be dumping effluent.

    • Maybe if you did search for “Eritrea agriculture”, you wouldn’t be so dismally ill-informed.

      Maybe you have heard of Mecca, Jeddah?

      And of course , there are numerous fish farms along coast the Red Sea.

  27. Here’s a better solution than albedo… ships use the water for coolant.
    https://www.marineinsight.com/guidelines/general-overview-of-central-cooling-system-on-ships/

    All of the ships going through a limited volume of water will of course raise temperatures faster than open sea where temperatures can disperse, and there is more surface area for the ships to have used… ie. all of the heat isn’t concentrated into a narrow zone.

    Think of it in terms of a blowtorch vs a heat lamp. Even if the heat lamp were to put out more total heat, the blowtorch concentrates it into a small area.

    • Good point…It all adds up, and the many large ships plying those relatively small waters are not only directly cycling hot water from engine cooling back into the ocean, but then the giant propellors are doing a fair bit of local mixing of the surface waters. Even the giant ships themselves are acquiring solar heating during the day time and contributing some heat back to the water and atmosphere. A bit of cumulative heating for sure, but whether this makes any significant difference would make for an interesting, more advanced analysis. If increasing CO2 1 part per 10,000 can supposedly be responsible for all the GW/CC, then why can’t some other obvious sources of heating also be considered.

  28. A factor to consider is there’s an awful lot of commerce thru that little basin mixing the heated with the water below . A Lower temperature over the absorbing depth would increase the rate of heating .

    But this is likely minor compared to normal wave action .

  29. What is the likelihood of the sea floor rifting adding warmth via either hot rocks or warm water, or both?

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