Ecosystems Dynamics & Assessment

Current Conditions of the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem -- Spring 2018 Update

See previous update here

Summary of Conditions of the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem

  • Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during 2017 continue to be above average; however, they represent some moderation from the extremely warm conditions recorded in 2016.

  • The 2017 spring phytoplankton bloom was poorly developed in most areas of the Northeast Shelf. The fall bloom tended to below average in intensity and duration. This reduced bloom activity was reflected in the 2017 mean annual chlorophyll concentration, which was the lowest in the time series.

  • As seen in both surface and bottom water temperature time series, there appears to have been a regime shift in thermal conditions in the Gulf of Maine. The shift represent an increase in temperature on the order of 1.5°C.

  • The variability of daily SST has increased over recent decades as indicated by the trends in standard deviation of daily temperature. There is an emerging pattern of cyclic variation in SST variability in the Middle Atlantic Bight.

  • The combined occupancy habitat for the main species occurring on the Northeast Shelf has increased dramatically indicating greater niche overlap among species.
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