SST for the NE Shelf Ecosystem jumped to record 14°C in 2012
Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during the second half of 2012 hit the highest level in 150 years, according to Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC).
“These high sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are the latest in a trend of above average temperature seen during the spring and summer seasons, and part of a pattern of elevated temperatures occurring in the Northwest Atlantic, but not seen elsewhere in the ocean basin over the past century,” said the latest NEFSC advisory.
- The temperature rise in 2012 was the highest temperature jump—more than 1°C—ever observed in the time series.
- Average SST was lower than 12.4°C (54.3°F) over the past three decades.
- The Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) extends from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras, N.C.
The four subregions of the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem, which extends from Cape Hatteras, N.C. to the Gulf of Maine. MAB is the Mid-Atlantic Bight, SNE is Southern New England, GB is Georges Bank, and GOM is the Gulf of Maine. Credit: NOAA
The warm water thermal habitat reached a record high during 2012, while cold water habitat dropped to a record low. “Early winter mixing of the water column went to extreme depths, which will impact the spring 2013 plankton bloom. Mixing redistributes nutrients and affects stratification of the water column as the bloom develops,” said the report.
Distributions of fish and shellfish on the Shelf is also affected by temperature. “The four southern species – black sea bass, summer flounder, longfin squid and butterfish – all showed a northeastward or upshelf shift. American lobster has shifted upshelf over time but at a slower rate than the southern species. Atlantic cod and haddock have shifted downshelf.”
“Changes in ocean temperatures and the timing and strength of spring and fall plankton blooms could affect the biological clocks of many marine species, which spawn at specific times of the year based on environmental cues like water temperature,” said a researcher in the NEFSC Ecosystem Assessment Program.