Tech & Science Marine heatwave: 'It's never been that hot before'

03:11  13 january  2018
03:11  13 january  2018 Source:   Radio New Zealand

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An unprecedented marine heatwave is causing Tasman sea temperatures to peak at up to six degrees above average. File photo Photo: rafaelbenari/123RF. Since November, the water has been more than 2°C above average, peaking even higher on some days.

Unable to select database. Never , never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again

Totaranui Seascape, Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand (file)© Getty Images Totaranui Seascape, Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand (file) An unprecedented marine heatwave is causing Tasman sea temperatures to peak at up to six degrees above average.

Since November, the water has been more than 2°C above average, peaking even higher on some days.

"It's never been that hot before," climate scientist Jim Salinger said.

"We looked at records back to 1900 and there's nothing anywhere near this."

Fishers in Doubtful Sound and Fiordland had reported catching snapper for the first time, while there are also anecdotes from surf life savers of bluebottle jellyfish appearing much earlier than normal, Dr Salinger said.

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The balmy ocean tenperatures were being driven by a combination of two different climate patterns: the southern annular mode, and a La Nina weather system, he said.

The southern annular mode was in its positive phase, meaning westerly winds that swirled around the Southern Ocean had contracted towards Antarctica.

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Of course it takes a lunatic Irishman to cook spaghetti in the middle of a heat wave since all the actual Italians are sitting back with antipasto because it ’ s too dam hot to cook. It ’ s even too dam hot for dog cookies and it ’ s never been that hot before .

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"We've not had the usual incursions ... of strong westerly winds, so that's really shut the door from the Southern Ocean for outbursts of cold air and rough weather to stir up the Tasman Sea."

The La Nina pattern meant more north-easterly winds, which encouraged the warm east Australian current to come further south towards New Zealand, Dr Salinger said.

Readings from floating gauges monitored by NIWA showed the warmer water was up to 50m deep, he said.

Our Changing World host Alison Ballance said extreme systems like the heatwave could have a profound affect on marine ecosystems.

Kaikōura biologist Jim Mills, who studied red-billed seagulls, had told her the warm water meant krill in the ocean was pushed much further down, beyond the reach of gulls who normally fed it to their young.

Instead, the gulls were feeding their chicks fish larvae and jellyfish - "anything they can find", Ms Ballance said.

Ask LH: What's The Best Way To Stay Cool In The Aussie Heat? .
Dear Lifehacker, I know you've offered tips on beating the heat in the past but this week takes things to another level.  Dear Lifehacker, I know you've offered tips on beating the heat in the past but this week takes things to another level: the temperatures are so high, especially in Sydney, you can fry an egg on the bonnet of your car in the early morning already.

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