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Sci Rep. 2012;2:553. doi: 10.1038/srep00553. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Direct interaction between the Gulf Stream and the shelfbreak south of New England.

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Physical Oceanography Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, USA.


Sea surface temperature imagery, satellite altimetry, and a surface drifter track reveal an unusual tilt in the Gulf Stream path that brought the Gulf Stream to 39.9°N near the Middle Atlantic Bight shelfbreak--200 km north of its mean position--in October 2011, while a large meander brought Gulf Stream water within 12 km of the shelfbreak in December 2011. Near-bottom temperature measurements from lobster traps on the outer continental shelf south of New England show distinct warming events (temperature increases exceeding 6°C) in November and December 2011. Moored profiler measurements over the continental slope show high salinities and temperatures, suggesting that the warm water on the continental shelf originated in the Gulf Stream. The combination of unusual water properties over the shelf and slope in late fall and the subsequent mild winter may affect seasonal stratification and habitat selection for marine life over the continental shelf in 2012.

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