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Ecosystems Dynamics & Assessment

Current Conditions of the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem -- Fall 2016 Update


  • Sea surface temperature (SST) in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during the first half of 2016 continued to be 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 shipboard measurements.
  • Spring survey hydrocast data indicate that surface and bottom temperatures were above normal across the northeast US shelf at both the surface and the bottom. These warm condition were likely related to warm air temperature experience during the winter of 2016.
  • The spring bloom was intense (high chlorophyll concentration) but of short duration from the Middle Atlantic Bight to the Georges Bank and Scotian Shelf. The Gulf of Maine spring bloom was below average size and duration.
  • Spring thermal transition dates for 2016 continue to be among the earliest dates recorded over the past three decades, the exception being the estimate for the Middle Atlantic Bight, which was closer to the average of the time series.
  • The distribution of fish and invertebrate species sampled by the NEFSC bottom trawl survey has changed. Utilizing data through the spring 2016 survey, kernel density plots and the assessments of species distributions both along- and across-shelf show mixed distribution movements over time.