North Sea as warm as usual in May

Climate change is responsible for unusually high levels

Surface temperature © BSH
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Temperature conditions are already prevailing in the North Sea, as they are normally only observed in May. This has been shown by measurements of the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). Due to the unusually mild winter, the warming of the water began much earlier than usual, the scientists said.


On Friday, the IPCC will present the second part of its progress report on climate change. The fact that global climate change is already having an impact in the North and Baltic Seas is now known. How massive these changes really are, the current evaluations of the North Sea temperatures in the winter quarter, said BSH scientist Hartmut Heinrich on Wednesday in Hamburg.

While the North Sea usually reaches its minimum temperature only in the second half of March, according to the results of the BSH this year, temperatures have been rising again since mid-February - to levels now around eight degrees Celsius (° C), measured, for example, north-northwest of Borkum.

The BSH automatic monitoring network also recorded the warmest winter since records began in 1989. With temperatures ranging from 7.5 ° C in January to 6.6 ° C in mid-February, winter temperatures were well above average for this season of 4.7 ° C and 3.7 ° C, respectively. The lowest winter temperature of 6.58 ° C was just under 3 ° C above the long-term average. display

Renewed reference to incipient climate change?

In addition to the mild weather, the German Bight is currently also being heated up by the above-average warm waters of the Northeast Atlantic, said the BSH scientist. Satellite measurements showed warm water flowing in along the English Channel along the Dutch-German coast into the southern North Sea.

The unusually warm temperatures in the waters of the German Bight this winter are seen by Heinrich as a renewed indication of the onset of climate change. The higher winter temperatures lead to a clear improvement in the chances of survival of immigrant or entrained species that prefer warmer water. In this respect, a winter like this can continue to give enormous impetus to biological changes in the North Sea ecosystem. Corresponding evaluations for the Baltic Sea temperatures will be available shortly.

(BSH, 05.04.2007 - DLO)