We are starting the MARACOOS blog early this year. Last year we started blogging when there was the data showing a spectacularly large phytoplankton bloom and then continued on through the passage of Hurricane Irene. The blogs provided a great forum for group discussion on the data being provided by our regional observatory. To that end, we will now initiate a blog. The goal is to develop a culture of data discussion by all of those that work with, live on, and study the ocean. While motivated in the sense of community, there is a unique circumstances that call for the starting a group discussion.
The fishermen (based on their observations that fish who normally migrate have not this winter) and the satellites have revealed a dramatic winter. This winter was essentially “winter free”. Below we show the nine-year time series of the sea surface temperature (SST) data collected at three of the locations (30, 80 and 120 kilometers) across the Mid-Atlantic Bight. The thing to examine in the figure is that the winter temperatures. The winter SST temperatures this last year was much warmer than normal. Typical winter temperatures range from 4-8 degrees. This last winter SST showed winter warmer temperatures that ranged from 6-12 degrees.
The next set of figures show the monthly mean SST temperatures for the months December, January, February for a 12-year time series. The data shows that this was exceptional year however past year also showed warm SST months in December and January. The black line shows the mean winter temperature over the 12 year time series. The last years that showed similar warm winters were in 2002 and 2007. 2007 showed a warm December then temperatures dropped in January and February. The SST event this year is close to what we experienced in 2002. That year showed similarly warm winter temperatures however the February SST this year are cooler then 2002. The warm temperatures of this year are more pronounced compared to past years as you move farther offshore. These results are motivating us to examine the dynamics we observed in 2002 and 2007. Those findings will be discussed in future blogs. My intention is to make this MARACOOS blog on a regular year long dialogue. We have a operational ocean observatory and thus we can begin a year long dialogue of our waters.