September 28, 2020 – by CSCS/Press Release University of Bern 

Using statistical analyses and simulations, a research team led by Charlotte Laufkötter from the Institute of Physics of the Oeschger Centre for Climate Research at the University of Bern has succeeded in showing how anthropogenic climate change has affected marine heat waves in recent decades. One of the climate models used for the study recently published in the journal "Science" was calculated on the CSCS-supercomputer “Piz Daint”. Based on their study Charlotte Laufkötter, Jakob Zscheischler and Thomas Frölicher conclude that the probability of such events has increased massively as a result of global warming. According to the study, heat waves have become massively longer and more pronounced in all oceans of the world over the past 40 years. “The recent heatwaves have had a serious impact on marine ecosystems, which need a long time to recover afterwards – if they ever fully recover,” says Charlotte Laufkötter.

Major marine heat waves have become more than 20 times more frequent due to human influence, says a press release from the University of Bern. While the heat waves occurred every hundred or thousand years in the pre-industrial age, depending on the progress of global warming, they are set to become the norm in the future. If global warming could be limited to 1.5 degrees, such a heat waves could be expected once every decade or century. However, if temperatures rise by 3 degrees, extreme situations are to be expected in the world's oceans every year or every ten years.

See the official press release >