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Fall 2014 Update: Summary of Conditions for the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem

  • Sea surface temperature (SST) in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during the first half of 2014 continued to moderate compared to the record high temperatures that occurred in 2012; however, temperatures remain above the long-term mean based on both contemporary satellite remote-sensing data and ship-board measurements.

  • This moderating effect in temperature was not uniform over the ecosystem. The northern ecoregions of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank remained relatively warm whereas the Middle Atlantic Bight has cooled to a greater extent.

  • Spring survey hydrocast data indicate that surface and bottom temperatures remain above average over most of the region, although temperatures are moderated relative to the past few years. There is some evidence of cooling in the central Middle Atlantic Bight.

  • The spring bloom on Georges Bank was of average size and timing, which was in contrast to the Gulf of Maine spring bloom, which was poorly developed and below detection limits.

  • Spring thermal transition dates for 2014 continue to be among the earliest dates recorded over the past three decades.

  • Projections for spring and fall thermal transition dates over the next 75 years suggest a shift in timing of 3-4 weeks, resulting in an increase in length of summer by approximately two months.

  • The distribution of fish and invertebrate species sampled by the NEFSC bottom trawl survey have changed; utilizing data through the spring 2014 survey, kernel density plots and the assessments of species distributions both along- and across-shelf show mixed distribution movements over time
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