Biological Impacts of Marine Heatwaves

Kathryn E. Smith, Michael T. Burrows, Alistair J. Hobday, Nathan G. King, Pippa J. Moore, Alex Sen gupta, Mads S. Thomsen, Thomas Wernberg, Dan A. Smale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)
78 Downloads (Pure)


Climatic extremes are becoming increasingly common against a background trend of global warming. In the oceans, marine heatwaves (MHWs)—discrete periods of anomalously warm water—have intensified and become more frequent over the past century, impacting the integrity of marine ecosystems globally. We review and synthesize current understanding of MHW impacts at the individual, population, and community levels. We then examine how these impacts affect broader ecosystem services and discuss the current state of research on biological impacts of MHWs. Finally, we explore current and emergent approaches to predicting the occurrence andimpacts of future events, along with adaptation and management approaches. With further increases in intensity and frequency projected for coming decades, MHWs are emerging as pervasive stressors to marine ecosystems globally. A deeper mechanistic understanding of their biological impacts is needed to better predict and adapt to increased MHW activity in the Anthropocene
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-145
Number of pages29
JournalAnnual Review of Marine Science
Issue number1
Early online date17 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2023


  • ecosystem services
  • extreme events
  • climate change
  • ocean warming
  • marine ecosystems
  • environmental change


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