Warm Waters in the Gulf of Maine

May 30, 2018

I was surprised to wake up to a quiet morning today, without hearing the constant bleating of the Bigelow‘s foghorn which is what lulled me to sleep. Since first approaching and then crossing the Great South Channel yesterday we’ve been enveloped in thick fog, which is pretty typical for Georges Bank during the warmer months of the year.

Today however looks fairly clear, which bodes well for Charles Kovach, our man from NESDIS (National Environmental Satellite Data Information Services). His mission, to provide ground-truth in-situ light measurements by lowering hand-deployed radiometers into the water during satellite overpasses, has been a difficult one, with all the cloud and now fog cover that we’ve had during this survey limiting his measurements.

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Top: Charles Kovach holding his submersible radiometer. Bottom: Kovach hand-deploying the device. Photos by Jerry Prezioso, NOAA Fishieries/NEFSC

Another collaborative researcher, Andrew Cogswell, from the Canadian DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans), has been patiently waiting for us to reach his study area on the northeast peak of Georges Bank and the entire Gulf of Maine.

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Andrew Cogswell from DFO Canada, with his ring net to be deployed in the Gulf of Maine.  Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NOAA Fisheries/ NEFSC

We are getting close now, having completed 61 stations and are now working our way across the southern flank of Georges Bank, just a dozen stations and one hundred sixty one nautical miles from the Northeast Channel. This year, with warm water anomalies having been discovered in the Gulf of Maine, this area has become the focus of increased interest as a gateway for the influx of this warm water.

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A graphic view of warm water temperature anomalies (purple) in continental shelf slope waters outside of Georges Bank and in the Gulf of Maine on May 30 2018.   From the Windy.com website

We have both bongo tows and CTD rosette casts scheduled to be taken there, so we are hoping to gather some valuable data!

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Susan Dee decorating a NOAA drifter buoy with her school’s name and logo. Photo by Jerry Prezioso, NOAA Fisheries/NEFSC

Susan Dee, our NOAA Teacher at Sea from May River High School in South Carolina, has, in addition to helping us with our plankton tows, been busy decorating a NOAA drifter buoy with her school’s name and logo, the Sharks. She is planning to launch it close to the northeast peak of Georges Bank, so perhaps it will also be able to contribute to our understanding of water movements and temperatures in this dynamic area. It will also offer her students a satellite connection via the internet to their teacher’s activities out here with us, as they monitor the buoy’s movements on the drifter website.

Looking ahead, we still have a couple more days of good weather which is helping to ensure our coverage of Georges Bank, but as the high pressure system over us slips off to the east we are facing more marginal conditions this weekend.

Together with the vessel command we’ve come up with a track that will take us across the Gulf of Maine closer to Nova Scotia, where we may get some lee shelter from the forecast northeast winds and be able to continue working, even if at a somewhat slower pace, depending on the seas.

Jerry Prezioso
Chief Scientist
HB18-03 Spring Ecosystems Monitoring Survey

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