Fall 2009 Update: Summary of Conditions of the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem

  • Sea surface temperature (SST) in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during the first half of 2009 continued to be moderate following the trend from the second half of 2008.
  • Problems with the SeaWiFS ocean color sensing satellite make the 2009 chlorophyll data used in this report provisional. Despite the provisional nature of the data, it is clear that there was an exceptional spring phytoplankton bloom on the Northeast Shelf focused in the western Gulf of Maine and Southern New England.
  • Zooplankton biomass levels were average or above during the first half of 2009
  • The 2009 spring phytoplankton blooms on Georges Bank and in the Gulf of Maine began in the same late February and early March time frames as last year. However, the blooms peaked in a later time frame reflecting longer duration blooms.
  • Spring bloom timing appears to be in part affected by the progression of spring SSTs in the region, suggesting a linkage between thermal conditions and water column structure.
  • A newly developed method to detect phytoplankton biomass fronts offers a tool to understand the relationship between phytoplankton production and fisheries.
  • Analysis of recent data confirms that the zooplankton community structure on Georges Bank shifted into a new state in the early 2000’s
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