Report Open Access
This ScienceBrief Review examines the links between climate change and marine heatwaves. It synthesises findings from more than 110 peer-reviewed scientific articles gathered using ScienceBrief. The evidence shows clear consensus that human-caused climate change has contributed to observed increases in the frequency, intensity and duration of marine heatwaves over recent decades. Climate models have shown that recent marine heatwaves in all oceans have been longer and more intense than can be explained by natural variability alone. These changes have caused widespread impacts on marine species with changes in distribution, loss of biodiversity, collapse of foundation species including coral, kelp and seagrass and the ecosystems they support, and declines in fisheries and cultural values. Ongoing climate change will lead to additional increases in marine heatwave frequency and intensity, further threatening marine life and the ecosystem services they provide to human societies.