Waters off the coast of Sydney are currently 3 ° C above normal, two to three months before the usual annual temperature peak, according to new satellite data. Ocean temperatures have reached record highs for the time of year, with an area of over 200 square kilometers affected.
In addition to global warming, which has already raised background temperatures, the La Niña weather event in the Pacific, which has caused rainy and humid conditions all summer, is pushing warmer waters towards Australia’s Pacific coast, as well as atmospheric systems that discharge large amounts of warm rain into streams that flow into the ocean.
While this may make your next swim at the beach a bit milder than usual, the excessive heat is not good news for marine ecosystems, especially for animals that prefer cooler waters like seals and the Sharks. The warm waters could also modify the typical territories of certain species such as whale sharks. Some projections predict that the warming trend could extend further south towards the southern coast of New South Wales.
Ocean temperatures often lag behind atmospheric conditions, meaning Australia’s annual peak in ocean temperatures typically reaches in late February or early March. As a result, excessively warm waters could continue to warm up over the next eight to 12 weeks.