A marine heatwave is a prolonged period when the ocean is much warmer than usual for that time of year.
Marine heatwaves can damage marine ecosystems and the industries that rely on them.
In late 2020, a La Niña was underway, which tends to push warm water from the Pacific through the Indonesian archipelago, and south along the coast of Western Australia.
Temperatures reached 2-3∘C above average off parts of the northwest coast during December 2020 and January 2021.
Although it did not reach the same severity as the extreme 2011 marine heatwave, some coral bleaching was observed and impacts to fisheries may yet be felt.
The ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes is researching how far in advance marine heatwaves off the coasts of Australia can be predicted.
This work is important because marine heatwaves are becoming longer and more frequent due to climate change.