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):


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,

From the paper:

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.


via Watts Up With That?

October 30, 2017 at 12:31PM

One Comment on “Claim: The Red Sea is warming faster than the global average

  1. Pingback: Red Sea Warming? |

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