Florida's 'Hot Tub' Seawater Temperatures Are Reaching Dangerous Highs
The historically high ocean temperatures could spell disaster for the area's wildlife.
There is a period of time in late Florida summers when you can wade into the water and it will feel warm, like bath water. Normally, these days come in late August, when the relentless sun has been heating the water for months—it's a sign that the hottest days have passed. One last hot hurrah before things cool off a bit in the fall. Except now, in the current climate crisis, change out bath tub temperatures for hot tub heat, and change out the dog days of summer for the middle of July.
The Associated Press reports that the water temperature around the southernmost part of Florida recently reached triple digits. The 101.1 degree Fahrenheit reading could be the hottest seawater temperature ever recorded and almost 1.5 degrees hotter than any temperature previously recorded. And unfortunately, this historic heat is just a record breaking novelty. The hot water is destroying coral and Florida's reef systems.
Another consequence of these high temperatures? More storms. Hot ocean temperatures are a breeding ground for strong storm systems, and the abnormally warm waters could bring on a vicious hurricane season in the Atlantic. Scientists are deeply concerned by the readings.
"I'm nervous by how early this is occurring," Ian Enochs, lead of the coral program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, told the AP about the triple-digit readings.
"This is a hot tub. I like my hot tub around 100, 101, (37.8, 38.3 C). That's what was recorded yesterday," said Yale Climate Connections meteorologist Jeff Masters. "We've never seen a record-breaking event like this before."
The record water temperature readings come as the United States and other parts of the world experience record heat waves that are expected to continue throughout the summer and intensify every year going forward.