A global assessment of marine heatwaves and their drivers

Neil J. Holbrook, Hillary A. Scannell, Alexander Sen Gupta, Jessica A. Benthuysen, Ming Feng, Eric C. J. Oliver, Lisa V. Alexander, Michael T. Burrows, Markus G. Donat, Alistair J. Hobday, Pippa Moore, Sarah E. Perkins-Kirkpatrick, Dan A. Smale, Sandra C. Straub, Thomas Wernberg

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Marine heatwaves (MHWs) can cause devastating impacts to marine life. Despite the serious consequences of MHWs, our understanding of their drivers is largely based on isolated case studies rather than any systematic unifying assessment. Here we provide the first global assessment under a consistent framework by combining a confidence assessment of the historical refereed literature from 1950 to February 2016, together with the analysis of MHWs determined from daily satellite sea surface temperatures from 1982–2016, to identify the important local processes, large-scale climate modes and teleconnections that are associated with MHWs regionally. Clear patterns emerge, including coherent relationships between enhanced or suppressed MHW occurrences with the dominant climate modes across most regions of the globe – an important exception being western boundary current regions where reports of MHW events are few and ocean-climate relationships are complex. These results provide a global baseline for future MHW process and prediction studies
Original languageEnglish
Article number2624
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2019


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