Projected changes to Tasman Sea eddies in a future climate
Oliver, ECJ and O'Kane, TJ and Holbrook, NJ, Projected changes to Tasman Sea eddies in a future climate, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 120, (11) pp. 7150-7165. ISSN 2169-9275 (2015) [Refereed Article]
The Tasman Sea is a hot spot of ocean warming, that is linked to the increased poleward influence of the East Australian Current (EAC) over recent decades. Specifically, the EAC produces mesoscale eddies which have significant impacts on the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the Tasman Sea. To effectively consider and explain potential eddy changes in the next 50 years, we use high-resolution dynamically downscaled climate change simulations to characterize the projected future marine climate and mesoscale eddies in the Tasman Sea through the 2060s. We assess changes in the marine climate and the eddy field using bulk statistics and by detecting and tracking individual eddies. We find that the eddy kinetic energy is projected to increase along southeast Australia. In addition, we find that eddies in the projected future climate are composed of a higher proportion of anticyclonic eddies in this region and that these eddies are longer lived and more stable. This amounts to nearly a doubling of eddy-related southward temperature transport in the upper 200 m of the Tasman Sea. These changes are concurrent with increases in baroclinic and barotropic instabilities focused around the EAC separation point. This poleward transport and increase in eddy activity would be expected to also increase the frequency of sudden warming events, including ocean temperature extremes, with potential impacts on marine fisheries, aquaculture, and biodiversity off Tasmania's east coast, through direct warming or competition/predation from invasive migrating species.
western boundary current, mesoscale eddies, climate change