Researchers at NOAA Fisheries say they’ve developed global forecasts that can provide up to a year’s advance notice of marine heatwaves, the sudden and pronounced rises in ocean temperatures that can dramatically impact ocean ecosystems.
These forecasts, as described in an article in the journal Nature could help seafood harvesters, fishery managers and coastal communities anticipate the effects of these heatwaves. The infamous 2013 heatwaves in the northeast Pacific Ocean, known as “the Blob,” resulted in shifting fish stocks, harmful algal blooms, entanglements of endangered humpback whales and thousands of starving sea lion pups washing up on beaches.
“We have seen marine heatwaves cause sudden and pronounced changes in ocean ecosystems around the world, and forecasts can help us anticipate what may be coming,” said lead author Michael Jacox of the NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Monterey, California and NOAA’s Physical Sciences Lab in Boulder, Colorado.
Marine heatwave forecasts are to be posted online through NOAA’s Physical Sciences Lab. Researchers say these forecasts are a key advance toward improved climate adaptation ad resilience for marine-dependent communities worldwide. The forecasts leverage global climate models to predict the likely emergence of new marine heatwaves.
“This is a really exciting way to use existing modeling tools in a much-needed new application,” Jacox said.