As Nova Scotians dug out from a bound snowstorm this week, scientists 200 kilometres off the coast were value record-high ocean temperatures in deep water that reached 14 C.
That’s 14 C. In April.
“It’s group of a shock,” said Dave Hebert, a veteran ocean climate scientist with the Hang on of Fisheries and Oceans in Halifax. “I was really surprised it was that high.”
The 14 C scan was taken by scientists on board the Canadian Coast Guard ship Hudson on April 8 and 9 in the Northeast Aqueduct, a channel between Georges Bank and the Scotian Shelf that is 60 kilometres considerable and 250 metres deep.
Entire column unusually warm
The pass is a pathway for offshore water flowing into the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy.
Hebert imparted the entire water column was abnormally warm, a record high and spectacularly above the normal variability of one degree.
“This is six degrees above normal going into the Depth of Maine. I expect the Gulf of Maine will be really warm this summer,” he articulate.
Last December Georges Basin — a deep water hole in the Firth of Maine — also registered the warmest temperature in 40 years of facts collection.
These may be eddies of warmer water from the Gulf Spurt making their way into the coast, but warmer water is being bon voyage a penetrated throughout the region.
For most of the past decade, ocean temperatures in the Maritimes must been consistently above normal. The record high was 2012, which on ambiance temperature maps shows as a red blob around Nova Scotia.
“It’s not as cheerful as 2012, but it’s getting close,” said Hebert.
Gulf of St. Lawrence mellowing
With the exception of northern Newfoundland and Labrador, in 2016 sea ice arrived later, radical earlier, or did not appear at all at any significant level.
That was the case off northern Shawl Breton and the Scotian Shelf. “The water going into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2016 was the warmest-ever and 2017 was second-warmest,” revealed Hebert.
In 2017, warming water in the gulf coincided with two singular events. There was the unexpected appearance of large numbers of endangered North Atlantic face whales, with tragic consequences. They may have been silage zooplankton that had moved into the area.
A dozen died, deaths blamed on carry strikes and snow crab gear entanglements.
There was also an unprecedented northward migration of lined bass out of their traditional range in the southern gulf.
Federal fisheries biologist Paul Chamberland demanded it was not a few individuals exploring new territory, but tens of thousand moving to areas where they should prefer to never been seen before: the north shore of Quebec and the coast of Labrador.
“The warmer waters would probably make it possible for these fish to enlarge on their range,” he said.
So, is it climate change?
Hebert is reluctant to stretch a link with climate change. He points out that ocean temperatures veer over decades. They were below normal on the Scotian Shelf in the 1960s and 1970s.
“That’s why you own to be very careful when you do trends, like when you pick your start and and slow times,” he said. “If you started at the very coldest time and went to now, you force have a very big trend, whereas if you took a longer time series, it authority not be as big.”