In Hot Water: Mar Menor Records Historic 31ºC

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Hot Water Alert: Mar Menor Hits Record-Breaking 31ºC Temperature Image: Shutterstock/ Alex Tihonovs

THE Mar Menor, a picturesque lagoon nestled in the southeastern region of the Iberian Peninsula, is facing an unprecedented challenge as its water temperature soars to new heights. Recently, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO-CSIC) reported a record-breaking water temperature of 31ºC.

This surge in water temperature is a consequence of two successive heatwaves that have been relentlessly affecting the southeastern region of the peninsula. The Mar Menor, usually known for its moderate climate, is now experiencing an average water temperature of 31ºC, raising concerns about the potential consequences for this unique wetland.

The historical data reveals a disturbing trend. Over the last month, the water temperature has been increasing at an alarming rate of one degree Celsius per week. The trajectory is concerning, with measurements of 27.19ºC on June 21, 28.58ºC on June 28, and 29.53ºC on July 5. The rising water temperatures have alarmed scientists and environmentalists, raising concerns about the ecosystem’s stability and potential impacts on marine life. The Mar Menor’s delicate ecological balance could be under threat, as elevated temperatures may disrupt marine habitats and decrease biodiversity.

Despite the soaring temperatures, there is a glimmer of hope. Surprisingly, oxygen levels in the lagoon have not been significantly affected, with an increase of 2.69% recorded between July 5 and July 12. This indicates that, for now, the balance remains intact. Furthermore, salinity levels have also increased by 1.05 compared to the previous year, and the water remains transparent.

The Murcia Oceanographic Centre, the regional headquarters of the IEO-CSIC, warns that these high temperatures surpass the maximum summer values observed since 2016. In fact, the last time such high average temperatures were recorded dates back to 2015. This suggests that the region might be experiencing an intense marine heat wave.

Additionally, the elevated water temperatures are not unique to the Mar Menor alone. The entire Mediterranean region has witnessed abnormally high water temperatures, with measurements of 28ºC recorded at the Cabo de Palos buoy.

The regional government has been closely monitoring the situation, as the warming trend poses significant challenges for policymakers and scientists. It highlights the urgency of addressing climate change and its impact on fragile ecosystems like the Mar Menor. Immediate actions may be necessary to mitigate the long-term consequences and preserve the biodiversity and ecological balance of the lagoon.

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!