The New York Times's Catrin Einhorn and Elena Shao is reporting that Florida is experiencing the some of the hottest sea temperatures off the Florida Keys on record. 

Florida's coral reefs are under a significant threat from a marine heat wave that is warming the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in water temperatures reaching the 90s Fahrenheit. (Wait what?!) 

While the current sea surface temperatures in the Florida Keys are already the highest on record, scientists are particularly concerned about the coming months of August and September, when corals typically experience the most heat stress. Rising sea temperatures lead to coral bleaching, where corals expel the algae they rely on for sustenance, and if the waters don't cool quickly enough or bleaching events occur successively, corals die.

This marine heat wave is not limited to the Gulf of Mexico, as approximately 40% of the planet is experiencing similar heat waves. The coral reefs are of immense ecological and economic importance, supporting a wide range of species and providing benefits worth $3.4 billion annually for fisheries, tourism, and coastal protection. The situation is exacerbated by the long-term warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions and the current El Niño phenomenon. While scientists are working on strategies to enhance coral resilience, the ultimate solution lies in addressing the root causes of climate change, reducing emissions, transitioning to clean energy, and reducing fossil fuel industry subsidies. The survival of corals and other species hinges on human actions to mitigate climate change.

(This article was summarized by ChatGPT). 

Source: New York Times
Written by Ursa Nova

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