Geophysical Research Letters

Abrupt warming of the Red Sea



[1] Coral reef ecosystems, often referred to as “marine rainforests,” concentrate the most diverse life in the oceans. Red Sea reef dwellers are adapted in a very warm environment, fact that makes them vulnerable to further and rapid warming. The detection and understanding of abrupt temperature changes is an important task, as ecosystems have more chances to adapt in a slowly rather than in a rapid changing environment. Using satellite derived sea surface and ground based air temperatures, it is shown that the Red Sea is going through an intense warming initiated in the mid-90s, with evidence for an abrupt increase after 1994 (0.7°C difference pre and post the shift). The air temperature is found to be a key parameter that influences the Red Sea marine temperature. The comparisons with Northern Hemisphere temperatures revealed that the observed warming is part of global climate change trends. The hitherto results also raise additional questions regarding other broader climatic impacts over the area.