Miles, Elaine, et al.: This summer’s sea temperatures were the hottest on record for Australia

Miles, Elaine, Claire Spillman, David Jones & David Walland

This summer’s sea temperatures were the hottest on record for Australia: here’s why‘, The Conversation, 5 April 2016 updated

Recent update on the Great Barrier Reef 20, 28 April 2016, May, June: ABC report on the extent of bleaching, including map, showing particularly the extreme position in the northern sector of the Reef. Scroll down five paras for earlier material. More, reporting the views of David Attenborough. More. Update 27 May: Australia censors UN report on environmental sites at risk, fearing it would impact tourism in Australia. Update 31 May: still more. Tim Flannery on the reef. Reef Authority puts matters in perspective. John Rumney in Guardian Australia (links to other Guardian material). International round-up on bleaching.

Four scientists from the Bureau of Meteorology explain why the summer just finished was the hottest on record not just on land but also in the waters surrounding Australia. One compelling graph goes back to 1900.

While summer on land has been dominated by significant warm spells, bushfires, and dryness, there is a bigger problem looming in the oceans around Australia. This summer has outstripped long-term sea surface temperature records that extend back to the 1950s. We have seen warm surface temperatures all around Australia and across most of the Pacific and Indian oceans, with particularly warm temperatures in the southeast and northern Australian regions.

The causes are partly natural phenomena (El Nino, weak monsoon, warm current, high pressure systems) and partly human activity. The impacts include coral reef damage, reduced fishing yields, drier weather on land, cyclones. The prognosis is for continuing warm waters.

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