What can we learn from sea surface temperatures?
To study marine ecosystems you have to unravel a series of complex relationships among oceanographic, biological, ecological conditions and fishing and other human activities in the marine environment. A key oceanographic factor that influences many of these relationships is sea surface temperature. Sea surface and bottom temperatures affect all parts of the marine food chain. Microscopic plants and animals (i.e., plankton and zooplankton) are affected as are the fish that eat them and the whales, seals and other predators that eat the fish. Ocean temperatures not only significantly influence where fish are when, but also, where fishermen must go to catch them.
We are going to provide biweekly updates on sea surface temperatures via social media @NOAAFisheriesAK and via this webpage to share what we are learning about current conditions in the eastern Bering Sea this year.
Interpreting the Graph
The graph includes satellite-derived sea surface temperature data for the eastern and northern Bering Sea shelf (10m-200m). The northern Bering area is from 60-65ºN and the eastern Bering is from the AK Peninsula to 60ºN. Background grey lines include daily temperatures for each year. The daily mean temperatures from 1986-2015 are overlain in black (adopting the convention of a mean based on the oldest 30 complete years of the time series). December data are plotted as part of the subsequent year (e.g., dark blue 2020 line includes December 2019). Figure courtesy of Jordan Watson, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center.
How were these graphs generated?
We are developing regional graphs of satellite-derived SST data for the southeastern and northern Bering Sea. Daily satellite data are downloaded and aggregated for the Bering Sea regions. The data come from the NOAA NESDIS STAR Coral Reef Watch program and are available back to April 1985. Data are freely available and can be downloaded or visualized from the Coastwatch Program West Coast node.