Global forecasts providing advance notice of marine heatwaves that can dramatically affect ocean ecosystems could help coastal communities, fishing fleets and ocean managers anticipate their effects.
The global forecasts can predict marine heatwaves up to a year in advance. Sudden changes in marine temperatures can have large effects on established ecosystems. A three-year heatwave caused the death of fish, harmful blooms of algae and the death of sea lion pups and whales, according to an April 20 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration release.
“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,” Michael Jacox, NOAA Fisheries research scientist, said, according to the release.
Other effects of marine heatwaves that NOAA Fisheries outlined are losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars due to declining fish and shellfish populations, according to the release. The changing proportions of species cause more human-wildlife conflicts as well as conflicts over fishing rights. Further, corals die in waters that are too warm.