Scientists find accelerated warming off Northeast coast

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A couple of unexplained large scale changes in the waters off the northeast coast of the U.S. have oceanographers perplexed: an accelerated rate of sea level rise compared to most other parts of the world; and the disturbing signs of collapsing fisheries in the region.

A new study by physical oceanographers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, shows that water temperatures in this continental shelf region have been trending upward, with unprecedented warming occurring over the last 13 years. The study also suggests a connection between sea level anomalies and water temperature along the continental shelf.

“The warming rate since 2002 is 15 times faster than from the previous 100 years,” says co-author Glen Gawarkiewicz, a WHOI senior scientist. “There's just been this incredible acceleration to the warming, and we don't know if its decadal variability, or if this trend will continue.”

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