Spring 2009 Update: Fall Conditions of the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem

The Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem experienced minor fluctuations in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) during the fall of 2008. In contrast to the warmer than average conditions recorded during the first half of the year, SSTs during the second half the year were generally close to the long term mean, with exception of July. July SSTs were above the long term average across much of the shelf. The high level of phytoplankton biomass (represented by the high chlorophyll a concentrations in the adjacent figure) observed in the first half of 2008 also continued into the second half of the year. Integrated estimates of chlorophyll concentration were at high levels by late summer, some 1-2 months in advance of the typical time frame that fall blooms usually develop on the shelf. This analysis was based on the level 3 chlorophyll data products which are due for revision; though the estimated chlorophyll concentrations may change, it is not expected that the revision will alter the observed trends or change the view that 2008 was a highly productive year. Zooplankton biomasses were at or above average throughout the summer and fall of 2008.

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