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Climate: Parts of western Atlantic reach record-high temps

NOAA documenting shift in marine species as water warms

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Looking down the East Coast from Cape Cod toward Long Island from the International Space Station. Visit this NASA Earth Observatory page for more information.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With sea surface temperatures at a 150-year high off off the mid-Atlantic and New England coastlines, scientists are document significant shifts in the distribution of commercially important marine species, with as-yet uncertain consequences for the entire ecosystem.

Those temperatures reached a record high of 57.2 degrees in 2012, exceeding the record high set in 1951. The average sea surface temperatures in the region — extending from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina — has typically been lower than 54.3 degrees during the past three decades, according to a NOAA advisory. Continue reading

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Climate: Ocean temps rising especially fast along coasts

Venice is at-risk to rising sea level. Photo by Bob Berwyn.

Heat island effect may drive rising sea levels, creating extra risk for populated coastal areas

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Scientists with the UK’s University of Southampton say they may have documented another unanticipated global warming feedback loop, as sea surface temperatures in coastal regions appears to be rising up to 10 times faster than the global average.

Based on a study in the famed Venice Lagoon, the researchers said they think the warming is due at least in part to the urban heat island effect, with highly developed areas radiating extra heat to their surroundings. The findings suggest the sea surface temperature increases driven by the heat island effect may outpace other factors in coastal areas. Continue reading

Climate: Record ocean temps reported off New England

Fish populations continue to shift northward

A June 2011 photo taken from the International Space Station shows Cape Cod and other sections of the New England coast, down to the northern end of Long Island. Photo courtesy NASA. Click on the image for more information.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal ocean scientists said this year’s sea surface temperatures along the northeast coast of the U.S. set all-time records, with as-yet unknown consequences for marine ecosystems.

Above-average temperatures were found in all parts of the ecosystem, from the ocean bottom to the sea surface and across the region, and the above average temperatures extended beyond the shelf break front to the Gulf Stream, according to an ecosystem advisory issued by NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

The warm waters led to the earliest, most intense and longest-lasting plankton bloom on record, with  implications for marine life, from the smallest creatures to the largest marine mammals like whales. Atlantic cod continued to shift northeastward from its historic distribution center. Continue reading

Ocean warming predates land-surface temperature spike

An Argo probe. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

New study uses data from historic HMS Challenger voyage as baseline for measuring ocean warming

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A comparison of current ocean temperatures with readings collected by the HMS Challenger in the 1870s suggests the Earth’s climate system started warming before a spike in land-surface temps that started in the 1970s.

Based on the study, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego physical oceanographer Dean Roemmich said ocean surface temperatures have increased 1.1 degrees since the HMS Challenger collected readings at 300 locations as part of one of history’s first oceanographic research expeditions. Continue reading

Coral reefs: Too hot, too cold …

Scripps researchers find corals can adapt to cooler oceans temps, but heat kills in the long run

Sponge diversity is high on coral reefs. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE/A. BOURQE.

Feeding coral polyps. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE/A. BOURQUE.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with steady warming of the world’s oceans, temperature extremes have become more common. In 2010, for example, coral reefs in some areas had to survive one of the hottest summers on record, along with record-breaking cold winter temperatures.

To help guide future coral reef conservation efforts, scientists with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego compared damage to corals exposed to heat as well as cold stress, finding that cool temperatures can inflict more damage in the short term, but heat is more destructive in the long run. Continue reading

Global warming drives dramatic changes in ocean currents

Changes in global wind patterns have pushed the East Australian Current southward and warmed temperatures in the ocean off Tasmania by several degrees in the past few decades. (NASA SATELLITE IMAGE)

Researchers see a global pattern of emerging  hotspots as currents migrate toward poles

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — An ever-expanding network of sensitive measuring devices, including ocean buoys is enabling researchers to get a better handle on the magnitude and scale of global climate change, including a patterned emergence of ocean hotspots alongside currents that wash the east coast of the major continents.

The warming in those areas far exceeds the average rate of ocean warming, according to research published the journal Nature Climate Change this week.

“We would expect natural change in the oceans over decades or centuries but change with such elevated sea surface temperatures in a growing number of locations and in a synchronised manner was definitely not expected,” said  Dr. Wenju Cai, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Continue reading

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