Seas of red surround Australia
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