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Marine Heatwaves and The Bay of Bengal



  Apr 20, 2024

Marine Heatwaves and The Bay of Bengal



1. What is a marine heatwave?

A marine heatwave is a prolonged period during which the sea surface temperature is significantly higher than the average for that specific region and time of year. These events are characterized by their intensity and duration, impacting vast areas of the ocean.

2. How are marine heatwaves measured?

Marine heatwaves are typically measured using sea surface temperature data. Scientists identify these events when the sea surface temperatures exceed the average by a certain threshold, commonly 1 degree Celsius or more, depending on regional baselines.

3. What causes marine heatwaves in the Bay of Bengal?

Marine heatwaves in the Bay of Bengal can be caused by several factors, including prolonged high atmospheric temperatures, altered ocean currents, and decreased mixing of ocean layers. These conditions are often exacerbated by broader climatic phenomena such as El Niño or changes in regional wind patterns.

4. How do marine heatwaves affect the monsoon in India?

Marine heatwaves in the Bay of Bengal have been linked to shifts in monsoon patterns. Typically, a warmer Bay can lead to increased evaporation, which might enhance rainfall in certain regions. However, the altered sea temperatures can also disrupt traditional wind patterns and moisture distribution, leading to uneven monsoon rains across India.

5. What was unique about the marine heatwave events in 2023?

In 2023, the Bay of Bengal experienced an intense marine heatwave that coincided with atypical monsoon patterns. Researchers noted an increase in shorter timescale depressions (3-10 days), which contributed to more frequent and heavier rainfall in northwest India, diverging from the usual monsoon trajectory.

6. What are the environmental impacts of marine heatwaves?

Marine heatwaves can have devastating impacts on marine biodiversity. For example, they can lead to coral bleaching, affect the health of mangrove ecosystems, and disrupt marine food chains by causing shifts in species distributions and reproductive timings.

7. What long-term effects do marine heatwaves have on regional weather patterns?

Over the long term, marine heatwaves can alter regional climate systems by changing precipitation patterns, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, and potentially modifying the intensity and paths of tropical cyclones.

These FAQs provide a foundational understanding of marine heatwaves, particularly focusing on their occurrence in the Bay of Bengal and their broader environmental and climatic impacts.


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