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Spring 2013: Summary of Conditions of the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem

  • Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during 2012 were the highest ever recorded in both long-term observational and short-term remote sensing time series. These exceptionally high SSTs are part of a pattern of elevated temperatures occurring in the Northwest Atlantic, but not seen elsewhere in the ocean basin.

  • The fall bloom on the Northeast Shelf was poorly developed with the exception of some bloom activity in the eastern Gulf of Maine; resources dependent on the fall bloom will experience a deficit in energy flow.

  • Chlorophyll concentration over the course of the year 2012 remained high compared to recent years despite low fall chlorophyll. The relatively high biomass level can be attributed to the above average 2012 spring bloom.

  • Reflecting the large jump in temperature of the ecosystem, Northeast Shelf warm water thermal habitat was at a record high level during 2012, whereas cold water habitat was at a record low level.

  • Winter mixing went to extreme depths in 2013, which will impact the spring bloom by redistributing nutrients and affecting the stratification of the water column as the bloom develops.
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