August 11, 2009

Tasmania reports record warm winter water

Australian scientists along Tasmania's eastern coast report the highest winter water temperature ever recorded there -- more than 55.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

The scientists from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization said the warming is due to a strengthening of the Leeuwin Current, which originates north of Australia. That current has expanded significantly, curling around the southern tip of Tasmania and reaching as far north as St Helens.

The Southern Hemisphere, including Australia and Tasmania, is now experiencing its winter season.

CSIRO's remote sensing specialists have been observing the current using satellite data, and ocean measurements made near Maria Island on Tasmania's east coast.

It's important for us to monitor these changes in the ocean, as they can have consequences for marine ecosystems, fisheries, aquaculture, coastal communities and more, CSIRO oceanographer George Cresswell said. He and oceanographers Katy Hill and David Griffin study ocean behavior in the Australian region.