Cold Pool


The Mid-Atlantic Bight is bounded by Cape Cod, Massachusetts to the north and Cape Hatteras North Carolina to the south. The physical oceanography of this region is influenced by the seafloor, freshwater input from multiple rivers and estuaries, large scale weather patterns, and tropical or winter coastal storm events. Consequently, this area experiences one of the largest summer to winter temperature changes of any part of the ocean around the world. The result is a unique ocean feature called the Cold Pool, a band of cold bottom water that extends the length of the Middle Atlantic Bight from spring through early fall. The MARACOOS team monitors the Cold Pool and identifies its impacts on the region.

Impacts on Fisheries

The Cold Pool has impacts on shellfish, demersal fish, pelagic fish. The timing of the migration of Atlantic Butterfish from their inshore summer habitat to their offshore winter habitat is linked to the breakdown of the Cold Pool by fall storms.

Impacts on Storms

Tropical storms typically enter into the Mid-Atlantic region from the late summer through the fall. The intensity of these sms is influenced by ocean temperatures. In the late summer of 2011, Hurricane Irene tracked up the east coast of the United States toward the cold pool. Ahead of the eye passage, strong winds mixed the Cold Pool waters up toward the surface, dramatically cooling the ocean surface. This colder ocean surface dramatically weakened the storm prior to landfall.