Context and objectives

Long-term ocean and atmospheric warming driven by a changing climate are making common the occurrence of prolonged Marine Heat Waves (MHWs) while reducing the incidence of cold spells. These two extremes have now been well documented, and have shown to provoke severe impacts on marine ecosystems globally – and on near-shore, shallow environments specifically – with in turn huge ecological and socioeconomic consequences. There is however a lack of knowledge on the impacts of these extreme events at the regional level, among others because of the lack of adequate datasets at the required high spatial and temporal resolutions.

North-Heat (2022-2024) will address these gaps by focusing on the following objectives:

  • Determine the Marine Heat Waves and Cold Spells in the southern North Sea.
  • Develop a methodology, based on DINEOF, to improve the spatial resolution of SST data using high-resolution SST data from Landsat/TIRS data.
  • Study the influence of specific MHWs on the different habitats of the southern North Sea, through the study of very high spatial resolution sea surface temperature and ocean color variables like chlorophyll.

Project outcome

Expected scientific results

An improved knowledge of the occurrence of marine heat waves during the last 4 decades in the southern North Sea, and the link to potential changes to the ecosystem.

A technology to derive high spatial resolution sea surface temperature data through the synergy of Landsat data with other more traditional sea surface temperature sensors.

Societal and environmental relevance

Marine heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense, and this has direct impacts in the health of the coastal ecosystems. A better knowledge of these events will help in assessing their impact, improve their prediction and plan mitigation measures.

Expected products and services

A database with the marine heat waves description (timing, frequency, intensity, trends).

The main results will be presented at international conferences and published in scientific papers.

Potential users

Researchers, aquaculture farm owners, decision-makers