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Indian Ocean heatwave off Western Australian coast – beatup continues now correlated with shark attacks

I first noticed these claims when the ABC Catalyst TV show (IPCC TV) ran “Taking Our Temperature” in November. I enjoyed the calm statements in the “Catalyst” NARRATION such as – “In fact, it was part of the biggest heatwave to hit Australia’s waters ever. It began just north of Ningaloo Reef, hitting it heartbreakingly with the force of a pot of boiling oil.”
Oh OK, only as hot as boiling oil then !! We will leave Catalyst there.
A few days ago the media has been running with – “WA ocean heatwave linked to shark attacks” – but the most scientific article I can find online is this UWA page from last July – “Unprecedented Indian Ocean heatwave creates melting pot”.
They say – “In the summer of 2010/11, the region experienced the highest seawater temperatures in at least 140 years”. Now taking the region off Perth as 30 to 35 South and 114 to 116 East, just the coastal strip and checking out the HadSST1 SST data at KNMI Climate Explorer; we find that the summer (Dec-Jan-Feb) of 1999-2000 was warmer (1.33 deg) than 2010-2011 (1.27 deg). So, claim shot down or at the very least marginal. The Reynolds SST data confirms that summer of 1999-2000 was warmer than 2010-2011 in that coastal strip off Perth.
To get a little perspective we can look at this global map of SST anomalies and ask what is so special about the warm SST anomalies off WA compared to the warm patch off Angola ?

Would the Angola media be running “ocean heatwave” stories ? Is their marine flora & fauna less worthy than ours ? And how about the large warm anomalies in the SE Pacific and South Atlantic ? – are teams of highly paid marine scientists writing papers about the effects of those large areas warmer ocean on the zillions of micro-organisms to be found there ? Or are they less worthy than marine life near the Perth coast.
Note the cold anomalies in north European seas and all around the USA in their winter 2010-11, some of which are relatively colder than the Perth anomalies are warm. Do cold patches of ocean have less significance for affecting marine life than warm patches ?

6 comments to Indian Ocean heatwave off Western Australian coast – beatup continues now correlated with shark attacks

  • [...] Shark attacks: Indian Ocean heatwave off Western Australian coast – beatup continues now correlated with shark at… December 25th, 2012 by Warwick Hughes I first noticed these claims when the ABC Catalyst TV show [...]

  • Philip Bradley

    When I first came to WA 20 years ago, rain between the end of November and the end of April was rare to non-existent. But over the last 3 years or so we have started to get summer rain and this year a lot of rain. Which makes me wonder if some multi-decadal cycle has flipped and one aspect of that is warmer SSTs.

    On a side note, the Water Corporation has switched its ads from claiming the climate is changing to saying it seems like the climate is changing.

    The latest says (and I paraphrase), ‘It seems like every year the summers get hotter’. This is classic ad-speak. It sounds like you are making a factual claim, when in fact you are just stating an opinion. Which makes me wonder if someone has told the WC to prove their changing/drying climate claim or stop making it.

  • David Brewer

    The theory here is pretty far-fetched in the first place. Sharks actually like cooler water, so the idea in the ABC’s second article is that they have been driven inshore to pockets of cooler water to avoid the “pot of boiling oil” out in the ocean.

    Well, who knows? Same with the supposedly “large impacts on marine organisms at Jurien Bay, 250 km north of Perth” in the UWA research.

    These stories are basically just spruiking for more research funds. In fact, sea temperatures probably have little effect on shark attacks, but as soon as you have a hook like that, the ABC will be happy to grease the skids for your funding pitches.

    Many years ago Private Eye cooked up the ideal tabloid headline – I think it was “Bishop in Palace Sex-Romp Mercy Dash”. Maybe we should have a competition for best ABC global warming headline. These give good hints. I suggest “Global warming in boiling oceans shark attack link, say Aussie uni battlers”.

  • Graeme Inkster

    140 years of reliable sea surface temperatures? All off the WA coast?

    Are these available, or are they like a lot of Climatology hidden away from sceptical eyes?

  • First the rising seas, then the boiling water, now the forests are dying, we are DOOMED!

  • Hugh Martin

    Lets not mention how unusually cold it is in the Northern Hemisphere .

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