Marine Heatwaves in a Changing Climate

Michael G. Jacox, from the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Monterey, California, presents a global analysis of the marine heatwaves in a changing climate. Heatwaves in the ocean can rapidly disrupt marine ecosystems and the economies that depend on them.

Understanding marine heatwaves (MHWs) is key to assessing their impact on marine species, which react to environmental change in different ways. For example, mobile species, including many fishes, can respond to temperature changes by relocating to find favourable conditions. These species might return after being temporarily displaced by an MHW, but long-term warming will probably shift their distributions permanently. Similarly, immobile species such as corals might recover from acute exposure to warmer temperatures (MHWs), but not from chronic exposure (long-term warming).

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