Alongshore upwelling modulates the intensity of marine heatwaves in a temperate coastal sea

Izquierdo, Paula and Taboada, Fernando González and González-Gil, Ricardo and Arrontes, Julio and Rico, José M (2022) Alongshore upwelling modulates the intensity of marine heatwaves in a temperate coastal sea. Science of the Total Environment, 835. 155478. ISSN 1879-1026 (

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Analyses of long-term temperature records based on satellite data have revealed an increase in the frequency and intensity of marine heatwaves (MHWs) in the world oceans, a trend directly associated with global change according to climate model simulations. However, these analyses often target open ocean pelagic systems and rarely include local scale, field temperature records that are more adequate to assess the impact of MHWs close to the land-sea interface. Here, we compared the incidence and characteristics of open ocean MHWs detected by satellites with those observed in the field over two decades (1998-2019) at two temperate intertidal locations in the central Cantabrian Sea, southern Bay of Biscay. Satellite retrievals tended to smooth out cooling events associated with intermittent, alongshore upwelling, especially during summer. These biases propagated to the characterization of MHWs and resulted in an overestimation of their incidence and duration close to the coast. To reconcile satellite and field records, we developed a downscaling approach based on regression modeling that enabled the reconstruction of past temperatures and analyze MHW trends. Despite the cooling effect due to upwelling, the temperature reconstructions revealed a six-fold increase in the incidence of MHWs in the Cantabrian Sea over the last four decades. A comparison between static (no trend) vs. dynamic (featuring a linear warming trend) MHW detection thresholds allowed us to attribute over half of the increase in MHW incidence to the ocean warming trend. Our results highlight the importance of local processes to fully characterize the complexity and impacts of MHWs on marine coastal ecosystems and call for the conservation of climate refugia associated with coastal upwelling to counter the impacts of climate warming. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.]