Current Conditions of the Northeast U.S. Shelf Ecosystem

October 18, 2019

A current summary of temperature, salinity, chlorophyll and other conditions on the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf.

Current Conditions

The Current Conditions is a biannual report on ecosystem and fisheries indicators for the Northeast U.S. continental shelf ecosystem. The report includes measurements of temperature and salinity indicators of seasonal warming and cooling patterns. Indicators describing phytoplankton distribution and blooms are derived from satellite remote sensing data. Upper trophic level indicators of fish and macroinvertebrate habitat and distribution dynamics are based on the Northeast Fisheries Science Center bottom trawl surveys.

Current Report Summary

  • During the last half of 2019, sea surface temperatures in the Northeast U.S. Shelf Ecosystem continued to be above average. This follows a shift in thermal conditions that began around 2010. Both surface and bottom water temperatures from remote sensing and ship-board measurements reflect this trend.
  • Fall phytoplankton blooms were generally at or below average with the exception of late season blooms in the Middle Atlantic Bight and Scotian Shelf subareas.
  • The Middle Atlantic Bight cold pool continues to warm and diminish in size following an apparent transitional event in 2008. 
  • The 2019 survey provides the first measure of fish and invertebrate species distribution in three years. There were incomplete surveys during the fall of 2017 and 2018. Fish distribution in 2019 continues the trend of species displacement to the northeast, and suggests some species may have moved to shallower water.

See the complete report.

Previous Reports

Fall 20192018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006
(reporting on the first six months of the year)

Spring 20202019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006
(reporting on the last six months of the previous year)


Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on 05/01/2020