Science

Atlantic Ocean Temps In Northeast Reach 150-Year High

By Nina Sen , Apr 26, 2013 05:16 PM EDT
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Temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean reached a 150-year high, according to the NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC).

Scientists recorded sea surface temperatures in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during 2012. The rise in temperature is part of a pattern of elevated temperatures occurring in the Northwest Atlantic. However, it could have long-term implications for the Earth's climate change.

According to a release, sea surface temperature for the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem reached a record high of 57.2 degrees Farenheit in 2012, exceeding the previous record high in 1951. The temperature increase in 2012 was the highest jump in temperature in a time period and one of only five times temperature has changed by more than 1.8 degree Farenheit.

High temperatures from global warming can affect algae bloom, sometimes causing Red Tide, to appear in new locations or months. Red Tide is a toxic algae bloom that can kill fish, birds and mammals. It also is harmful to humans if ingested with shellfish or other foods.

"Many factors are involved in these shifts, including temperature, population size, and the distributions of both prey and predators," said Jon Hare, a scientist in the NEFSC's Oceanography Branch, said in the release.

The climbing temps can also hurts the distribution of marine life. Many commercially valuable fish and shellfish such as black sea bass, butterfish and flounder are already moving north to colder waters. This could drastically affect the fishing industry in the area, the release says.

"Changes in ocean temperatures and the timing and strength of spring and fall plankton blooms could affect the biological clocks of many marine species, which spawn at specific times of the year based on environmental cues like water temperature. The size of the spring plankton bloom was so large that the annual chlorophyll concentration remained high in 2012 despite low fall activity. These changes will have a profound impact throughout the ecosystem," Kevin Friedland, a scientist in the NEFSC Ecosystem Assessment Program, said in the relase.

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