Fishletter Issue 335, July 24, 2014 (emphasis added): There is a massive pool of warm water in the Gulf of Alaska, NOAA scientist Nate Mantua said in an email. It is unprecedented in the historical record, he added… the past year is way out of the historical range — “so who knows what will happen?“
NOAA Fisheries, Sept. 2014: Scientists across NOAA Fisheries are watching a persistent expanse of exceptionally warm water spanning the Gulf of Alaska that could send reverberations through the marine food web. The warm expanse appeared about a year ago and the longer it lingers, the greater potential it has to affect ocean life… “Right now it’s super warm all the way across the Pacific to Japan,” said Bill Peterson, an oceanographer with NOAA… “it’s a very interesting time because when you see something like this that’s totally new you have opportunities to learn things you were never expecting.” Not since records began has the region of the North Pacific Ocean been so warm for so long… The situation does not match recognized patterns in ocean conditions such as El Niño Southern Oscillation or Pacific Decadal Oscillation… “It’s a strange and mixed bag out there,” Mantua said… warm temperatures are higher and cover more of the northern Pacific than the PDO typically affects… cold near-shore conditions in the Pacific Northwest also don’t match the typical PDO pattern.
North Pacific Marine Science Organization (pdf), Summer 2014: In March 2014 there was something very unusual occurring in the Northeast (NE) Pacific that might have substantial consequences for biota in the Gulf of Alaska and southward into the subtropics… we see SST departures of 4.5 standard deviations… The anomaly field covers a large region of the N.E. Pacific… The authors of this article have never seen [such] deviations… Something as extraordinary as a 4.5-sigma deviation requires corroboration… Argo data verify the very large temperature departures… and similar large deviations in salinity… the event is primarily restricted to the upper 100 metres of the water… In most years, a winter region of high productivity is created by this Ekman transport… Without nutrients from the subarctic, the productivity of subtropical waters must decline… Between 30–40°N, surface chlorophyll dropped to 60% of the average values… weakened nutrient transport from the subarctic into the subtropics this past winter will dramatically reduce the productivity of the eastern subtropics over an area of ~17,000 km² [~6,500 miles²].
Productivity refers to “the rate of generation of biomass in an ecosystem. Productivity of autotrophs such as plants is called primary productivity… Almost all life on earth is directly or indirectly reliant on primary production… the base of the food chain.”
Published: September 17th, 2014 at 12:07 pm ET