Jul 14, 2017

The unprecedented 2015/16 Tasman Sea marine heatwave

Eric C. J. Oliver, Jessica A. Benthuysen, Nathaniel L. Bindoff, Alistair J. Hobday, Neil J. Holbrook, Craig N. Mundy, Sarah E. Perkins-Kirkpatrick
Nature Communications
  • States that the Tasman Sea off southeast Australia exhibited its longest and most intense marine heatwave ever recorded in 2015/16
  • Reports on several inter-related aspects of this event: observed characteristics, physical drivers, ecological impacts and the role of climate change
  • Outlines the characteristics of this heatwave, which lasted for 251 days reaching a maximum intensity of 2.9 °C above climatology
  • Finds that the anomalous warming is dominated by anomalous convergence of heat linked to the southward flowing East Australian Current
  • Uses global climate models to estimate the increased risk of MHWs in the Tasman Sea, with the duration and intensity of this particular event observed in the summer of 2015/16, due to anthropogenic climate change (≥330 times and ≥6.8 times as likely, respectively)
  • Documents how the 2015/16 MHW affected regional coastal ecosystems, from new disease outbreaks in farmed shellfish to mortality of wild molluscs