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Preliminary Evidence for the Amplification of Global Warming in Shallow, Intertidal Estuarine Waters
Oczkowski, A., Rick Mckinney, S. Ayvazian, Alana Hanson, C. Wigand, AND E. Markham. Preliminary Evidence for the Amplification of Global Warming in Shallow, Intertidal Estuarine Waters. PLoS ONE . Public Library of Science, San Francisco, CA, , 1-18, (2015).
Concern about climate change, both within the EPA and among the general public, has increased in recent years. In response, scientists have focused their efforts on identifying and quantifying the response of water bodies to our changing climate and projecting future scenarios. In the marine environment, the scientific community has observed water temperature increases in both the open ocean and in estuaries. However, in this paper, we put forth data that suggest that rising water temperatures are exacerbated in shallow nearshore areas and may have an important impact on the ecosystem, particularly on small fish populations. We discuss the implications in the mauscript as well as encourage coastal ecologists to look to these nearshore ecosystems for some of the most dramatic impacts of climate change.
Over the past 50 years, mean annual water temperature in northeastern U.S. estuaries has increased by approximately 1.2°C, with most of the warming recorded in the winter and early spring. We hypothesize that this warming may be amplified in the shallow (<2m), nearshore portions of these estuaries. While not typically selected as locations for long-term monitoring, some data from the published and gray literature suggest that this may be the case in the early spring when temperatures are at least 3°C higher. Warmer spring waters may be one of the factors influencing biota residing in tidal regions both in general as well as at our specific sites. Fish yields from a seining study conducted in 1962 and repeated in 2010-2012 found that estuarine fish have increased four to eight-fold. The biggest rise was in Menidia spp., which now dominates the catch at all four stations. We hypothesize this may be attributable to warmer spring waters extending the spawning and growing seasons and more non-point source nutrients enhancing productivity. While data are preliminary, taken together they suggest that shallow intertidal portions of estuaries may be important places to look for the impacts of climate change.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY
ATLANTIC ECOLOGY DIVISION
WATERSHED DIAGNOSTICS BRANCH