Tracking ‘marine heatwaves’ since 1950 — and how the ‘blob’ stacks up

Watts Up With That?


From the University of Washington

Unusually warm oceans can have widespread effects on marine ecosystems. Warm patches off the Pacific Northwest from 2013 to 2015, and a couple of years earlier in the Atlantic Ocean, affected everything from sea lions to fish migration routes to coastal weather.

A University of Washington oceanographer is lead author of a study looking at the history of such features across the Northern Hemisphere. The study was published in March in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“We can think of marine heatwaves as the analog to atmospheric heatwaves, except they happen at the sea surface and affect marine ecosystems,” said lead author Hillary Scannell, a UW doctoral student in oceanography. “There are a lot of similarities.”

Land-based heatwaves are becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change. Scannell and her collaborators’ work suggests this may also be happening in the north Atlantic…

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