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Geographical Changes in the Indian Ocean may impacts the unexpected Summer at South India in Apr-May 2024

Research on Understanding the Impact of Marine Heatwaves on the Indian Ocean: Implications for Stability and Sustainability



Co-author - Rashika Murugan, Mohamed Sahil & Sri Manoj Kunar

Let's know about Global Warming first

Global warming is causing rapid warming of the oceans, with vast water bodies storing approximately 91% of the excess heat energy trapped in the Earth's climate system by greenhouse gases. Among the recent phenomena attributed to this warming trend are marine heatwaves, characterized by extreme surface warming events that can have profound effects on marine ecosystems and human societies.

This article explores the implications of marine heatwaves in the Indian Ocean region, particularly in light of recent discussions at the seventh Indian Ocean Conference held in Perth, Western Australia.

Definition and Occurrence of Marine Heatwaves:

Marine heatwaves are defined as events where ocean temperatures rise to extreme levels and remain elevated for at least five consecutive days. These events have gained attention in recent years, with the term first coined in reference to an extreme warming event off the west coast of Australia during the 2010-11 austral summer. Since then, marine heatwaves have been identified as significant contributors to mass mortalities in marine mammals and birds, as well as the collapse of fisheries and aquaculture in various regions, including Korea and the United States.

The Tropical Indian Ocean: A Hotspot for Marine Heatwaves:

Recent research indicates a rapid increase in ocean warming in the tropical Indian Ocean, with sea surface temperatures (SSTs) rising by approximately one degree Celsius over the period of 1951-2015 at a rate of 0.15 degrees Celsius per decade. This warming trend has led to an increase in the frequency and intensity of marine heatwave events, with the western Indian Ocean experiencing 66 events and the Bay of Bengal witnessing 94 events during the period of 1982-2018. Such trends underscore the vulnerability of the Indian Ocean region to the impacts of climate change.

Implications for Stability and Sustainability:

Discussions at the seventh Indian Ocean Conference highlighted the pressing need for stability and sustainability in the region, with a particular focus on the potential challenges posed by China's actions. While official government representatives at the conference avoided direct mention of China, there was a tacit acknowledgment of the need to address Beijing's disregard for international rules and norms, particularly regarding the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Concerns were raised about the implications of China's actions for freedom of navigation, maritime security, and sovereignty in the Indian Ocean.

Addressing the Challenges:

As underscored by participants at the conference, ensuring stability and sustainability in the Indian Ocean requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders. This includes strengthening cooperation among Indian Ocean rim countries, upholding international laws and norms, and promoting dialogue to address strategic challenges. Additionally, efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change, including marine heatwaves, are essential for safeguarding the health and resilience of marine ecosystems and coastal communities.

 Let's compare the research article provided with the given title and make some points regarding the impact on public health, vector-borne diseases, impact on food security, heat stress and mental health, and remedies and adaptation strategies:

1. Impact on Public Health:

   - The research article primarily focuses on the ecological and geopolitical implications of marine heatwaves in the Indian Ocean, with limited emphasis on direct health impacts.

   - While it mentions mass mortalities in marine mammals and birds resulting from marine heatwaves, it does not extensively explore the broader public health implications for human populations.

   - To address this gap, the article could integrate research on the health effects of extreme heat events, waterborne diseases, and other health hazards associated with marine heatwaves. It could highlight how rising ocean temperatures can pose risks to human health, particularly among vulnerable coastal communities.


2. Vector-borne Diseases:

   - Although the research article touches on the collapse of fisheries and aquaculture due to marine heatwaves, it does not specifically address the potential implications for vector-borne diseases.

   - Vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and chikungunya can proliferate in warmer climates and may pose increased risks to human populations in the Indian Ocean region.

   - Integrating research on the relationship between climate change, marine heatwaves, and the spread of vector-borne diseases would enhance the article's comprehensiveness and relevance to public health concerns.

3. Impact on Food Security:

   - The article briefly mentions the collapse of fisheries and aquaculture as consequences of marine heatwaves, highlighting the potential impact on food security.

   - However, it does not delve deeply into the broader implications of ocean warming for food production, livelihoods, and nutrition in the Indian Ocean region.

   - Expanding on this point by discussing the cascading effects of marine heatwaves on marine biodiversity, fish stocks, and coastal economies would provide a more comprehensive understanding of the food security challenges faced by communities in the region.


4. Heat Stress and Mental Health:

   - The research article does not directly address the health effects of heat stress and mental health impacts associated with marine heatwaves.

   - However, it briefly mentions the interconnected nature of the global economy and the efforts to ensure the security of maritime trade routes, which indirectly relates to the importance of addressing mental health concerns among seafarers and coastal communities.

   - Including a section on the physiological and psychological effects of extreme heat events on human health, as well as strategies for mitigating heat stress and promoting mental well-being, would enhance the article's relevance to public health discourse.

5. Remedies and Adaptation Strategies:

   - While the article mentions the need for collaborative efforts among Indian Ocean rim countries to address stability and sustainability challenges, it does not specifically discuss remedies and adaptation strategies to mitigate the health impacts of marine heatwaves.

   - Including a dedicated section on actionable measures, such as early warning systems for extreme heat events, community-based adaptation initiatives, and investments in healthcare infrastructure, would provide valuable insights for policymakers and stakeholders seeking to safeguard public health in the face of climate change.

   - Moreover, highlighting the importance of interdisciplinary approaches that integrate health considerations into climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts would underscore the interconnected nature of environmental and human health challenges.

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