Ocean Science Fact: Marine heat waves are not only destructive, they can also lead to massive ecosystem changes

Marine heat wave, combined with ocean warming, can lead to substantial ecosystem changes. Following the 2011 marine heatwave, a kelp forest ecosystem along 100 kilometres of Western Australia’s coastline completely collapsed. High water temperatures alone severely damaged the ecosystem, but the shift from temperate to tropical water temperatures also led to an increase in tropical grazing fish, preventing the kelp forest from recovering.  

Source: Wernberg et al., 2016 

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Pacific Community Centre for Ocean Science (PCCOS)

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