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Significant reduction of potential exposure to extreme marine heatwaves by achieving carbon neutrality
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  • Seok-Geun Oh,
  • Seok-Woo Son,
  • Sujong Jeong,
  • Yang-Ki Cho
Seok-Geun Oh
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
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Seok-Woo Son
Seoul National University
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Sujong Jeong
Seoul National University
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Yang-Ki Cho
Seoul National University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Marine heatwave (MHW), a prolonged period of anomalously warm seawater, has a catastrophic repercussion on marine ecosystems. With global warming, MHWs have become increasingly frequent, intense, and prolonged. To avoid irreversible damages from such extreme events, net-zero carbon emissions by the 2050s, called carbon neutrality, were proposed. Here, we evaluate the impact of carbon neutrality on MHWs in the late 21st century using multi-model projections from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP)1-1.9 and SSP3-7.0 scenarios. It is found that if the current regional rivalry over carbon emissions continues (i.e., SSP3-7.0), the MHWs in the late 21st century will become stronger and longer than historical ones, especially in the western boundary current and equatorial current regions. Approximately 68% of the global ocean will be exposed to permanent MHWs, regionally 93% in the Indian Ocean, 76% in the Pacific Ocean, 68% in the Atlantic Ocean, 65% in the Coastal Ocean, and 48% in the Southern Ocean. Such MHWs can be significantly reduced by achieving carbon neutrality (i.e., SSP1-1.9). In particular, the spatial proportion of the ocean exposed to permanent MHWs can be reduced to as low as 0.02 to 0.07%, depending on the regions. This result underscores the critical importance of ongoing efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions to reduce the potential ecological risks induced by extreme MHWs.
10 Jan 2024Submitted to ESS Open Archive
02 Feb 2024Published in ESS Open Archive