Ocean between NZ and Australia a “hotspot”

29-Aug-2016 7:58 AM

The ocean between New Zealand and Australia is a global “hotspot”, one of the fastest-warming ocean regions on the planet at four times the global average.

The ocean between New Zealand and Australia is a global “hotspot”, one of the fastest-warming ocean regions on the planet at four times the global average.
 
What does this accelerated warming mean for the coastal environments of both countries and the marine species that live there?
 
Oceanographer Moninya Roughan’s research aims to understand the effect of one of the strongest influences on ocean conditions in this region, the East Australia Current. She is a visiting Seelye Fellow at the University of Auckland and gives a public lecture this month on her work.
 
“New Zealand and Australia sit at the tail pipe of the East Australia Current where global ocean circulation affects the coastlines of both countries so we need a much better understanding of its effects,” she says.
 
Associate Professor Roughan, from UNSW Australia (formerly University of New South Wales), leads a comprehensive ocean observation system comprising a network of moorings, HF Radar and an underwater autonomous “glider” that transmits data in almost real time by satellite.
 
The data should help scientists better understand what drives change in this part of the ocean. Measurements over the past 70 years show that over the past Century, surface temperatures off the coast of Tasmania have risen as much as 2.28degC.
 
One of the key species that may be affected by environmental changes are tiny lobster larvae that spend a year adrift at sea before returning to the coast to develop into juveniles. With many not making it back from the journey, the lucrative spiny lobster fishery is facing decline and scientists suspect it is due to changing ocean conditions.
 
The lobster project, a collaboration between UNSW, Associate Professor  Andrew Jeffs from the University of Auckland’s Institute of Marine Science and NSW Fisheries, involves observing lobster larvae swimming in a special tank with a continuous flow of seawater to mimic natural conditions.
 
So far the research has established that while ocean warming may favour baby lobster and help them develop, the strengthening currents transport them further south than normal.
 
This free public lecture on 1 September will be held at 6pm in the Medium Chemistry Lecture Theatre, building 303, 23 Symonds St, Auckland.
 
For more information contact:
 
Anne Beston  I  Media Relations Adviser, Communications, University of Auckland
Email: a.beston@auckland.ac.nz, Tel: +64 9 923 3258, Mobile: + 64 (0) 21 970 089

Topic: General News

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