The water temperatures in the North Sea near the Frisian Wadden Islands are far higher than normal due to the prolonged heat wave in northwestern European countries.
The Leeuwarder Courant reports that the sea water in the vicinity of the Wadden Islands is four degrees warmer than the long term average. In general, during August, the waters of the North Sea near the islands are around 17 degrees Celsius, but temperatures have been above 20 degrees in recent days.
Weather models and satellite imagery have indicated that the waters of entire the North Sea are around 2 to 4 degrees above average: between the south of Norway and England, waters are about 2 degrees warmer than usual, and the waters along the Danish and German coasts are 3 degrees hotter. But the waters on the North Sea side of the Frisian islands are the warmest: temperatures have reached 22 degrees over the pst week.
Water temperatures across the rest of Europe are also warmer than usual this summer. The Bay of Biscay along the Spanish and French coasts has also been around 22 degrees, which is two degrees warmer than normal August temperatures. The Baltic Sea is much warmer than normal: water temperatures are up to seven degrees higher than average this month.
Rising sea temperatures have been linked to climate change, and although warmer waters may seem like a welcome change to beach goers in Europe, they can cause serious problems. In comments to Euronews, Hans-Martin Füssel stated that unusually hot waters in Europe have led to more water-borne diseases as oxygen levels decrease. Coral reefs are also vulnerable to damage during marine heatwaves. The behaviour of other sea life is also influenced by temperature fluctuations: cold water fish populations are in decline around Europe, and warm water species such as red mullet have been growing explosively. Warming waters in northern Europe could also mean that sharks are present in previously unfamiliar territory.
The heat wave itself which is causing the warmer water temperatures is a result of climate change, and is part of a vicious cycle: warmer ocean temperatures can cause the jet stream over the northern hemisphere to fluctuate, which can make extreme weather events stronger and keep them in place over a region for a longer period.
In the Netherlands in particular, the annual blue algae blooms have been worse and more widespread this summer on inland bodies of water. Aerators have been introduced in Groningen to keep oxygen levels safe for fish living in ponds in the city.
Photo source: surf-forecast.com