In the past few weeks, western Canada has been hit by a severe heat wave. The temperature crossed 50 degrees Celsius, 500 people died. Hundreds of fires spread through the forest, and Lytton was completely burned.
According to experts, the heat wave not only wreaked havoc on land – the high temperatures would have also caused massive deaths in coastal waters. According to Christopher Harley, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia, up to a billion marine life has died out.
Harley reported to the Guardian a walk along the shore near downtown Vancouver: the smell of rotting mussels was overwhelming, the beaches littered with empty shells. The remains of snails, starfish and clams were rotting in the shallow water. Colleagues also told him about dead sea anemones, rock fish and oysters.
consequences for water quality
According to the scientist, the air temperature in Vancouver was 30 degrees Celsius, while the rocky coast warmed up to 50 degrees.
Mussels withstand temperatures of up to 30 degrees, for a certain period barnacles also survive 40 degrees, Harley said, “but when temperatures rise above this threshold, conditions become unfavorable for life.” “
The mass extinction of shellfish has a short-term impact on water quality, Harley said. They kept the water clear so that sunlight could reach the seaweed. Mussel colonies also created habitat for dozens of other species.
unthinkable without the climate crisis
According to a study, the scorching heat of the past few days in western North America would have been nearly impossible without the climate crisis with temperatures of around 50 degrees Celsius. Global warming due to greenhouse gases is 150 times more likely to cause heat waves in Canada and the United States, according to a high-ranking international group of climate researchers.
next heat wave expected
After weeks of heat, it is cold again in western Canada. However, the break will only last for a short time: the next heat wave is expected at the beginning of the weekend.