Description of oceanographic conditions on the northeast U.S. continental shelf during 2014
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Description of oceanographic conditions on the northeast U.S. continental shelf during 2014
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    Hydrographic observations from 8 surveys spanning the Northeast US Continental Shelf are combined into a descriptive overview of the broadscale oceanographic conditions observed during 2014. Temperature and salinity observations are combined into 6 bimonthly time periods 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 bimonthly period, and time series of regional average properties are discussed for 5 geographic regions spanning the shelf: western Gulf of Maine, eastern Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, and northern and southern Middle Atlantic Bight. Overall, 2014 was characterized by continued warming throughout the water column, an increase in the seasonal range of temperature and generally more saline conditions across the region. Deep (slope) waters entering the Gulf of Maine were warmer and saltier than average and their temperature and salinity suggest a subtropical source. Mixed layers in the western Gulf of Maine were anomalously deep during the winter of 2014, presumably a consequence of colder than average air temperatures that persisted over the northeastern United States during winter. The vigorous mixing led to the formation of a thicker layer of cold intermediate water the following spring. Finally, observations reveal a significant intrusion of Gulf Stream water in the Middle Atlantic Bight during late summer. The intrusion encompassed the width of the shelf, leading to profound changes in the water mass distributions. Such episodic events have the potential to cause significant ch anges in the ecosystem, including changes in nutrient loading on the shelf, the seasonal elimination of critical habitats such as the cold pool and shelf-slope front, disruption of seasonal migration cues, and an increase in the concentration of offshore larval fish on the shelf. [doi:10.7289/V5SQ8XD2 (]
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