Spring 2006 Update: Fall Sea Surface Temperature Distribution
The distribution of sea surface temperature (SST) throughout the Northeast Shelf ecosystem during September 2005 shows a clear separation between the warmer waters in the Southern New England (SNE) / Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) subareas, and the cooler surface waters to the north, over Georges Bank and throughout the Gulf of Maine (GOM) (see upper map figure showing the distribution of sea surface temperature in degrees Celsius). The warm waters of the MAB continental shelf and over the western GOM water suggest conditions typical of late summer where the water column is vertically stratified. In contrast, the cooler surface waters over Nantucket Shoals, parts of Georges Bank, and along the Maine and Nova Scotia coasts reflect the typical conditions of strong tidal mixing and weak vertical thermal stratification throughout the summer. The departures of SSTs during September 2005 from the long-term September mean are shown as a temperature-anomaly map (see lower anomaly map, also in units of degrees Celsius). Surface waters in the western GOM (over Wilkinson Basin), offshore of Georges Bank, on the SNE shelf and most of the MAB shelf were about 2-3 degrees warmer during September 2005 than average. SSTs over much of Georges Bank and the northern GOM were similar to the long term mean. SSTs over the broad axis of the Gulf Stream during September 2005 are a few degrees cooler than the mean SST based on the 15-year (1985-1999) climatology, though further investigation will be required to determine whether this is significant to the fish and fisheries of the Northeast Shelf ecosystem.