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Fall 2012 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 2012 was the highest on record based on both contemporary satellites remote sensing data and long-term ship-board measurements.

  • The Northeast Shelf warming was pervasive showing above average temperatures in all parts of the ecosystem; the above average temperatures extended beyond the shelf break front to the Gulf Stream.

  • Spring survey hydrocast data shows that bottom temperatures have risen concomitantly with surface temperatures.

  • The 2012 spring bloom was a long duration, intense bloom that started at the earliest date recorded in the ocean color remote sensing data time series dating back to 1998. In some areas the spring bloom started as early as February.

  • The spring bloom was fully developed by March in all areas except Georges Bank, which had an average, though variable bloom.

  • Spring zooplankton biomass on the Northeast Shelf was above average in 2012.

  • Cod distribution continues to be highly dynamic with northerly shifts detected in the spring 2012 data consistent with a response to ecosystem warming.
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