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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00712

An Advective Marine Heatwave in the Middle Atlantic Bight: Shelfbreak Exchange Driven Thermohaline Anomalies in Early 2017

  • 1Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, United States
  • 2Narragansett Laboratory, Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NOAA), United States
  • 3Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation, United States
  • 4Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NOAA), United States
  • 5University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States

There has been wide interest in marine heatwaves and their ecological consequences in recent years. Most analyses have focused on remotely sensed sea surface temperature data due to the temporal and spatial coverage it provides in order to establish the presence and duration of heatwaves. Using hydrographic data from a variety of sources, we show that an advective Marine Heatwave was initiated by an extreme shelfbreak exchange event in late December 2016 south of New England, with temperature anomalies measuring up to 6°C and salinity anomalies exceeding 1 PSU. Similar features were observed off of New Jersey in February 2017, and are associated with the Shelfbreak Front migrating from its normal position to mid-shelf or further onshore. Shelf water of 34 PSU was observed just north of Cape Hatteras at the 30 m isobath and across the continental shelf in late April 2017. These observations reveal that the 2017 Marine Heatwave was associated with a strong positive salinity anomaly, that its total duration was approximately 4 months, and its advective path extended roughly 900 km along the length of the continental shelf in the Middle Atlantic Bight. The origin of this Marine Heatwave is likely related to the presence of Warm Core Rings adjacent to the shelfbreak south of New England.

Keywords: Heatwave, Middle Atlantic Bight, shelfbreak front, Warm core ring, Coastal ocean circulation

Received: 27 May 2019; Accepted: 05 Nov 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Gawarkiewicz, Chen, Forsyth, Bahr, Mercer, Ellertson, Fratantoni, Seim, Haines and Han. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Glen Gawarkiewicz, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, United States, gleng@whoi.edu