Description of the 2011 oceanographic conditions on the northeast U.S. continental shelf
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Description of the 2011 oceanographic conditions on the northeast U.S. continental shelf

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  • Alternative Title:
    Oceanographic conditions on the northeast U.S. continental shelf
  • Description:
    "Hydrographic observations from eleven surveys spanning the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf are combined into a descriptive overview of the broad-scale oceanographic conditions that were observed during 2011. Temperature and salinity observations are combined into six 2-month time periods in order to maximize both the spatial coverage of the data and its temporal resolution during the year. Maps of near-surface and near-bottom property distributions are presented for each bi-monthly period and time series of regional average properties are discussed for five geographic regions spanning the shelf: western Gulf of Maine (GOMW), eastern Gulf of Maine (GOME), Georges Bank (GBNK), and northern and southern Middle Atlantic Bight (MABN and MABS, respectively). Surface conditions along the entire Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf were generally warm and very fresh in 2011 relative to the reference period (1977-1987). Surface warming was largest in the spring in the southern Middle Atlantic Bight and in late summer elsewhere. Freshening was greatest in the surface waters near the coast in the western Gulf of Maine and southern MAB during periods of maximum spring discharge, suggesting some influence from local fresh water sources in these regions. A later period of enhanced freshening also appears to align with a second large peak in precipitation over the Northeastern United States. The surface freshening observed over Georges Bank and throughout the MAB penetrates to the bottom, while bottom waters in the Northeast Channel and deep basins of the GoM were saltier than normal reflective of slope water influences in these regions. A particularly large Gulf Stream meander was responsible for extraordinarily warm and salty conditions observed throughout the water column on the New England Shelf between October-December 2011"--Abstract.
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