New Year brings severe marine heatwave to southern NZ

Although the early new year is set to bring rain to many areas, severe marine heatwaves are forecast for the bottom of the South Island where sea surface temperatures will reach a whopping 4 degrees or more above average. This is according to MetService oceanographer Dr Joao de Souza, who is tracking marine heatwaves as part of the Moana Project

Dr Souza explains, “Sea surface temperatures are rising rapidly at the moment along the West Coast of the South Island, in Fiordland, around Stewart Island and towards the Otago Peninsula. The marine heatwaves we’ve seen building since before Christmas are expected to reach a new high Wednesday, with coastal patches off the West Coast forecast to reach 4.7 degrees above average for this time of year. Fiordland will also experience high water temperatures around this time, and around Stewart Island extending towards the Otago Peninsula we’re expecting a ‘severe’ marine heatwave later in the week, on 5-6 January. Then, surface temperatures are forecast to reach 18.4 degrees, compared to the 13.5 degree average – a difference of almost 5 degrees.”

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