Ocean off the U.S. Northeast Was Warmest in 150 Years, Report Says

Sea surface temperatures along the northeastern U.S. were warmer in 2012 than during any year in the last 150 years, a new report finds. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) latest Ecosystem Advisory for the Northeast Shelf, sea surface temperatures across the region — which extends from Cape Hatteras, N.C., to the Gulf of Maine — averaged 14 degrees C (57.2 degrees F) last year, significantly higher than the average temperature over the last three decades, which was 12.4 degrees C (54.3 degrees F). It was also the biggest one-year increase since records were first kept in 1854. While the data historically has been collected by ship-board instruments, NOAA now also incorporates satellite remote-sensing technology. “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,” said Kevin Friedland, a NOAA scientist.