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Continued Buoy Support for Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasting New Hampshire

Contract Title: Red Tide Disaster Relief Grant with NERACOOS
Grantee: Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS)
Award Period: June 3, 2013-June 15, 2013

Original Proposal

This project was designed to support Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) forecasting activities by establishing the process and procedures for the delivery of real-time and historical buoy information from the seven buoys in the Gulf of Maine to the HAB research group led by scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). In addition, historical water temperature and salinity data for the period of January 2008 through April 2013 were compiled, with comparisons to previous years. The availability of these datasets was intended to ensure the availability of real-time information and forecasts to resource managers and scientists in the region to aid with planning and execution of routine monitoring efforts. Project end date was June 15, 2013.

Project Summary

The Gulf of Maine buoy array of the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) has been providing continuous oceanographic measurements since its initial deployment in 2001. There are currently seven buoys in the array that are sited at coastal shelf depths ranging from 50 to 250 m and providing temperature measurements at 3-7 depths throughout the water column. Since the NERACOOS Gulf of Maine buoy array was initially deployed in 2001, the general trend has been for a warming of the region’s coastal ocean waters. A comprehensive analysis of all the buoys with data up to 2011 showed that the warming trend was consistent at all buoys with the maximum rate of change noticed at intermediate depth in the deepest offshore buoys.

At the surface, the rate of warming at the buoy nearest to New Hampshire was 0.093 șC / year (± 0.038). Reanalysis of the time-series with data through May 2013 at the same location in this study indicated that the rate of warming for surface waters was 0.144 șC / year (± 0.037). There were significant relationships between temperature variability and time, although the temperature variability explained by time alone was low. Even though warming rates were inconsistent with depth, there were no significant differences in warming rates between the depths. The warming trend observed at this buoy might be part of cyclical changes in water temperature or part of a larger climatic shift.

Novel analysis of the rate of change of salinity at the same location indicated a general freshening of the surface waters (1 and 20 m) but no significant change in bottom waters (50 m). The amount of variability explained by time alone was low at the two depths where the rates were significant (1 and 20 m), which is indicative of a weaker effect of time on salinity than the effect of time on temperature.

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