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Heat waves happen at the bottom of the ocean, too

The 2013-2016 marine heat wave known as “The Blob”  warmed a vast expanse of surface waters across the northeastern Pacific, disrupting West Coast marine ecosystems, depressing salmon returns, and damaging commercial fisheries. It also prompted a wave of research on extreme warming of ocean surface waters. 
But, as new NOAA research shows, marine heat waves also happen deep underwater. 

In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, a team led by NOAA researchers used a combination of observations and computer models to generate the first broad assessment of bottom marine heat waves in the productive continental shelf waters surrounding North America. 

“Researchers have been investigating marine heat waves at the sea surface for over a decade now,” said lead author Dillon Amaya, a research scientist with NOAA’s Physical Science Laboratory. “This is the first time we’ve been able to really dive deeper and assess how these extreme events unfold along shallow seafloors.”

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