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130947 - Extreme marine warming across tropical Australia.pdf (3.82 MB)

Extreme marine warming across tropical Australia during austral summer 2015–2016

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 01:06 authored by Benthuysen, JA, Oliver, ECJ, Feng, M, Marshall, AG
During austral summer 2015–2016, prolonged extreme ocean warming events, known as marine heatwaves (MHWs), occurred in the waters around tropical Australia. MHWs arose first in the southeast tropical Indian Ocean in November 2015, emerging progressively east until March 2016, when all waters from the North West Shelf to the Coral Sea were affected. The MHW maximum intensity tended to occur in March, coinciding with the timing of the maximum sea surface temperature (SST). Large areas were in a MHW state for 3–4 months continuously with maximum intensities over 2°C. In 2016, the Indonesian‐Australian Basin and areas including the Timor Sea and Kimberley shelf experienced the longest and most intense MHW from remotely sensed SST dating back to 1982. In situ temperature data from temperature loggers at coastal sites revealed a consistent picture, with MHWs appearing from west to east and peaking in March 2016. Temperature data from moorings, an Argo float, and Slocum gliders showed the extent of warming with depth. The events occurred during a strong El Niño and weakened monsoon activity, enhanced by the extended suppressed phase of the Madden‐Julian Oscillation. Reduced cloud cover in January and February 2016 led to positive air‐sea heat flux anomalies into the ocean, predominantly due to the shortwave radiation contribution with a smaller additional contribution from the latent heat flux anomalies. A data‐assimilating ocean model showed regional changes in the upper ocean circulation and a change in summer surface mixed layer depths and barrier layer thicknesses consistent with past El Niño events.


Publication title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Inc.

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2018 American Geophysical Union

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Effects of climate change on Australia (excl. social impacts)

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