Journal or chapter

The unprecedented coupled ocean-atmosphere summer heatwave in the New Zealand region 2017-18: Drivers, mechanisms and impacts

Environmental Research Letters (2019)

During austral summer (DJF) 2017/18, the New Zealand region experienced an unprecedented coupled ocean-atmosphere heatwave, covering an area of 4 million km2.

This paper discusses the effects of the event, which included warming of the Tasman Sea’s surface layers; glacier ice loss in the Southern Alps; early wine-grape maturation in Marlborough; and major species disruption in marine ecosystems.

The unprecedented heatwave provides a good analogue for possible mean conditions in the late 21st century. The best match suggests this extreme summer may be typical of average New Zealand summer climate for 2081–2100, under the RCP4.5 or RCP6.0 scenario.


The Southern Ocean in a warming world