Seas of red surround Australia

Craig Brokensha
Swellnet Analysis

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) released their 2017 climate summary this week, and as no surprise to many, we registered another record year of warmth - the third warmest on record and 0.95°C above the climate average.

Looking at the waters surrounding Australia, and temperature anomalies (the difference between measured temperatures and the climate average) were 0.49°C above average, and the eighth warmest on record (dating back to 1900).

For surfers, it's been easy to notice the warmer temperatures this year when excluding local upwelling events.

And to highlight this point, some amazingly warm though somewhat uncomfortable sea surface temperatures were recorded off the Australian East Coast over the weekend.

The cause of this burst of warm temperatures was the East Australian Current (which itself is currently 1.5-2°C above average) encroaching the coast.

A network of wave buoys spread along the Queensland and New South Wales coasts recorded some incredible temperatures. Starting with the North Moreton Bay buoy, located off the southern Sunshine Coast, we saw sea surface temperatures reach 29°C on Saturday. This is somewhat equivalent with what you'd expect in Indonesia or the tropical South Pacific.

It should be noted that the North Moreton Bay buoy is situated in a shallow semi-enclosed bay allowing it to heat quicker than the open ocean.

Not far off this reading was Mooloolaba, a short distance north, which spiked above 28°C, while down on the Gold Coast temperatures hovered around 26°C. The Brisbane buoy off of North Stradbroke Island spiked above 27°C a day later on Sunday.

Moving south and into New South Wales, the Byron Buoy jumped to 27.3°C on Saturday after being mostly steady at 26°C. Keeping in mind that the minimum required temperature for a cyclone to form is that 26.5°C.

Coffs Harbour has been hovering between 24-25°C, while Crowdy Head, situated off the Mid North Coast shows the most interesting data.

Temperatures were initially around 24°C, but a strong upwelling event was registered Saturday afternoon and Sunday under strong north-east breezes. A drop of 6°C was recorded in the space of an afternoon, down to a relatively chilly 18°C.

Sydney didn't experience the same upwelling event, with temperatures hovering around a balmy 22°C, similar off Wollongong and in the deep south around Eden.

The BOM sea surface temperature charts shows that the Tasman Sea saw some of the highest temperatures ever recored last year and one look at the current anomalies shows a similar pattern early into this year.

While this is great news for surfers who hate the thought of wearing rubber in the surf, the consequences to the marine environment and coastal eco systems surrounding Australia aren't as favourable. This was the first time we've see two consecutive years of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.

Which species adapt and migrate with the continued warming of our oceans will be the big question over the coming years and decades.

Data courtesy of Weatherzone, Bureau of Meteorology, Manly Hydraulics Laboratory and the Queensland Government

Comments

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 2:48pm

Satellite observations of the weekend's Mid North Coast upwelling event.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 2:57pm

All very interesting Craig. Any data on our friend the luminescent algae? An upwelling followed by warming would seem to be ideal.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 3:02pm

No sorry, but there is lots of it in the Hawkesbury River..

I remember the last time it occurred was after no rain for a long period followed by a torrential down pour and influx of fertiliser into the system? Wish I knew how to forecast it as it's one of the most amazing things to witness.

buttplug's picture
buttplug's picture
buttplug commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 5:49pm

And there we have it!
The scientific data/proof why its a really bad idea to farm Atlantic salmon off King Island.
Come on Tassal..... think!

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 8:07pm

we've had two mild outbreaks of red algae bloom this summer .....trichodesmium sp a cyanobacteria.

And all that warm water pooling in the southern Tasman and out to NZ is completely fcuking the SE tradewind flow, again.

Distracted's picture
Distracted's picture
Distracted commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 9:03pm

Don’t have to look too far to see impact of temperature on sea life. Although sea turtles egg temperature must be based on air rather than sea temperature:
http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-09/pacific-green-turtles-future-un...

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey commented Thursday, 11 Jan 2018 at 11:48pm

Its shaping up to be one hell of a late Summer / Autumn for Tassie , NSW , SE Qld and NZ .

" SA's Reserve Capacity "

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 9:20am

I could surf in boardies in Vic at the moment within reason. Its feels warmer than usual but it still only calling 19 degrees. Whats North Coast at around August?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 9:25am

'Bout the same! Boardies all year north from Byron if you can handle the odd day of wind-chill (i.e. need a vest). 

mredhill's picture
mredhill's picture
mredhill commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 9:49am

True story Nick. Was on my way back to Sydney last week along the Great Ocean Road, stopped at Winki for a wave and almost suffered heat exhaustion in a 3/2 steamer. Couldn't believe how warm it was. Boardies and a vest would have been ideal.

Woof woof 41's picture
Woof woof 41's picture
Woof woof 41 commented Saturday, 13 Jan 2018 at 6:14am

Hi mate I grew up surfing down around winki and Bells and through the 80s and 90s you could get away with a spring suit in the summer sumer times.
I moved up north for a decade so was used to warmer water when I went back to bells last February.
I surfed in board shorts a couple of times for 3hrs no way have I ever been able to to that there before.
30mins back in the old days and even on a 40deg day you would have been blue.

oldman's picture
oldman's picture
oldman commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 10:37am

South Coast waters around Middleton to Goolwa also feel warmer than usual.
Boardies no problem.
Which is OK for my old arthritic body haha.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 10:47am

Indeed, looks around 21 degrees or so. Even warmer through the northern part of the gulf too.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 12 Jan 2018 at 10:53am

Yeah the temps I experienced off the South Coast over the Christmas period were the warmest I've felt back home at that time of year. The lack of persistent strong SE winds has helped a lot.

halleys-comet's picture
halleys-comet's picture
halleys-comet commented Wednesday, 17 Jan 2018 at 11:36pm

Craig your analysis looks like coming to fruition by months end in nor-west WA, cyclone time!,

daComet

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 18 Jan 2018 at 8:05am

Yes, there's definitely a lot of activity coming our way!

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 2 Feb 2018 at 7:59am

With bath like water in Sydney and surrounds, check out the sea surface temperature anomalies in the southern Tasman Sea and off New Zealand :o

Reposted as I realised WZ non-members couldn't see the image.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Wednesday, 7 Feb 2018 at 3:13pm

The water temperatures around Sydney the last few weeks have been bath like. I'm on the skinny side and only wear boardies when it's really warm and no wind, but have been fine the last three weeks.

Checking the Sydney buoy today and the readings off Long Reef have reached 24.35deg! Insane.

uncle_leroy's picture
uncle_leroy's picture
uncle_leroy commented Thursday, 8 Feb 2018 at 6:13pm

Different story in WA, air temps 5-6 deg below average, water temps are normal if not a bit cooler than a usual summer if there is such a thing any more.
https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/weather/perth-weather-mild-summer-break...

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 8 Feb 2018 at 6:35pm

Good link!

Clam's picture
Clam's picture
Clam commented Thursday, 8 Feb 2018 at 7:37pm

Very very interesting thank you .
Good one Craig and swellnet .
Unc leroy too thankss

Richy's picture
Richy's picture
Richy commented Thursday, 8 Feb 2018 at 8:41pm

The sea was very warm this evening. I recon 28 degrees North Coast NSW, Yamba

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