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Observed Frequent Occurrences of Marine Heatwaves in Most Ocean Regions during the Last Two Decades


Marine heatwaves (MHWs) are prolonged high-temperature extreme events in the ocean that can be devastating to marine life and seriously impact climate systems and economies. This paper describes the accessibility, content, characteristics, and potential applications of an MHW dataset to facilitate its use in scientific research. Daily intensities of global MHWs from 1982 to 2020 were analyzed using gridded SST data sourced from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Optimum Interpolation (OI) SST V2 high-resolution (0.25°) dataset. The analysis shows a linear increase in the frequency of MHWs in most ocean regions of the world as well as significant interdecadal changes. This data product can be used as a basic dataset to study the seasonal to decadal changes in extreme ocean events and explore the effects of global warming on the surface layers of oceans during the last 40 years.

Data availability statement and sharing policy. The data that support the findings of this study are openly available in the Science Data Bank at (doi: Users are encouraged to download and share the datasets. All the datasets are free.


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This work was supported by the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences, CAS (Grant No. ZDBS-LY-DQC010), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41876012), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDB42000000), and the National Key R&D Program of China 2018YFB0505000. NOAA High-Resolution SST data were provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA, from their Web site at The authors wish to thank two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments and suggestions.

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Correspondence to Fei Zheng.

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Zhang, X., Zheng, F., Zhu, J. et al. Observed Frequent Occurrences of Marine Heatwaves in Most Ocean Regions during the Last Two Decades. Adv. Atmos. Sci. (2022).

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Key words

  • marine heatwave
  • daily intensity
  • linear trend
  • climate extremes