Changes in the East Australian Current and its implications for marine ecosystems — ASN Events

Changes in the East Australian Current and its implications for marine ecosystems (6448)

Erik Van Sebille 1
  1. University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2052, Australia
The warming of the upper oceans directly affects both climate and ecosystems on global and regional scales. This ocean warming, however, is far from uniform around the world, with certain areas warming much faster than the mean and others experiencing almost no warming. This spatial inhomogeneity is to large extent due to the redistribution of heat by the ocean currents and how these currents are affected in a changing climate.

The East Australian Current is one of the most dramatic examples in the world of how changes in currents can affect sea surface temperatures. As the winds over the Pacific Ocean have increased, the poleward flowing current has sped up and carries more warm water along the eastern Australian coast. This increased heat flux has resulted in the Tasman Sea experiencing one of the highest rates of sea surface temperature increase in the world.

The increased current strength and temperature in the East Australian Current have large implications for the marine ecosystems on the eastern Australian coast. The so-called tropicalisation of ecosystems is expected to bring tropical fishes to the temperate kelp forests off NSW, potentially resulting in large changes in these sensitive marine ecosystems.

In this presentation, I will review both the observed and projected changes in speed and temperature of the East Australian Current under Climate Change and discuss how this might impact the temperate marine ecosystems along the NSW border. I will present novel results based on Individual-Based high-resolution modelling.