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Ocean heat waves are becoming more common and lasting longer

The extreme events can kill corals and kelp and throw marine ecosystems into chaos

By
11:00am, April 10, 2018
kelp forest

SWELTERING STRANDS  In 2011, a marine heat wave off Australia’s southern coast devastated the towering kelp forests of the Great Southern Reef (shown).

The world’s oceans are sweltering. Over the last century, marine heat waves have become more common and are lasting longer. New research suggests the annual number of days that some part of the ocean is experiencing a heat wave has increased 54 percent from 1925 to 2016, researchers report April 10 in Nature Communications.

Typically, scientists define a marine heat wave as at least five consecutive days of unusually high temperatures for a particular ocean region or season. These extreme temperatures can be lethal for marine species such as corals, kelp and oysters, and can wreak havoc on fisheries and

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