OUC Made Significant Progress in Marine Heatwave Research

An interdisciplinary research team from the School of Mathematics Sciences and the Key Laboratory of Physical Oceanography (MOE) has achieved significant progress in the study of marine heatwaves. The research, titled “Frequent Marine Heatwaves Hidden below the Surface of the Global Ocean”, was published in the prestigious international academic journal Nature Geoscience.

Marine heatwaves are extreme, anomalous warm water events that have a substantial negative impact on marine ecosystems and socio-economic systems. With global warming, the frequency and intensity of marine heatwaves are increasing annually. Monitoring and forecasting marine heatwaves have become issues of close concern in the scientific community. 

The team integrated statistical learning methods with oceanographic knowledge to overcome the challenges posed by the anisotropy of the marine temperature field. For the first time, they expanded the definition of marine heatwaves from time series to four-dimensional space-time, achieving a quantitative depiction of the spatio-temporal structure of global marine heatwaves. About one-third of global marine heatwaves are hidden below the ocean surface, with no significant sea surface temperature anomalies during their entire life cycle. These subsurface marine heatwaves are primarily distributed in the subtropical inner zones. With global warming and the rise in subsurface ocean temperatures, the frequency of subsurface marine heatwaves is continuously increasing.


This achievement provides an important methodology for the study of extreme events such as marine heatwaves, offering significant guidance for understanding the mechanisms of their formation and dissipation, forecasting marine heatwaves, and further developing marine ecological emergency management measures.