Fall 2011 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 2011 was moderate during winter, but increased to exceptionally high levels by June (see Data Sources for changes in methods used to calculate ecosystem indices).

  • The 2011 spring bloom was a short duration high intensity bloom involving most of the shelf waters. In recent years, an intense spring bloom developed in the Massachusetts Bay/Nantucket Shoals area, however this was not the case in 2011. The spring bloom was well developed in the Southern New England and eastern Georges Bank areas and below average in Massachusetts Bay/Nantucket Shoals.

  • The spring phytoplankton blooms associated with the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank and the Middle Atlantic Bight usually initiates in sequence, with earlier blooms from south to north. In 2011, the spring bloom started at the same time throughout the ecosystem and was only differentiated by bloom duration in different sub-regions.

  • Zooplankton biomass on the Northeast Shelf was extremely low in 2010, declining to levels not seen in over two decades.
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