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Buzzard’s Bay is less than 200 miles away from New York Harbor, as the crow or osprey flies. I would suspect a similar 4-degree rise in water temperature during the summer has also occurred in our local tidal waters over the last several decades. This has brought about an increase in alga blooms and the regular appearance of warm-water fish & jellyfish; and a decrease in cold-water fish, such as Atlantic tom-cod. It won’t be long now for the waters of New York Harbor to have the same biodiversity of present-day Chesapeake Bay followed decades later of present-day South Carolina. Now would be a good time to invest in a boat and plenty of sunscreen.
From: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Published January 22, 2016 02:44 PM
Buzzards Bay being impacted by climate change
An analysis of long-term, water quality monitoring data reveals that climate change is already having an impact on ecosystems in the coastal waters of Buzzards Bay, Mass. The impacts relate to how nitrogen pollution affects coastal ecosystems.
Utilizing 22 years of data collected by a network of citizen scientists, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their colleagues at the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, and the Marine Biological Laboratory found that average summertime temperatures in embayments throughout Buzzards Bay warmed by almost 2 degrees Celsius—roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
"That is a rapid temperature increase for marine life," said Jennie Rheuban, a research associate at WHOI and lead author of the paper published January 15, 2016, in the journal Biogeosciences. "For some species, a single degree Fahrenheit change can mean the difference between a comfortable environment and one where they can no longer thrive."
In addition, Rheuban added, the warmer water temperatures are fueling an increase in algae growth. While algae and other microscopic plants, which form the base of the marine food chain, are vital to a healthy ecosystem, too much can cause murky water, reduce sunlight and oxygen levels, and ultimately cause harm to marine life.
This means added challenges for improving water quality in some Cape Cod and southeastern Mass. watersheds that are already suffering from too much nitrogen, which is most commonly caused by releases from septic systems and wastewater treatment plants, atmospheric pollution, and fertilizer runoff. Excess nitrogen also boosts algae growth.
"What we're seeing in the long-term data is that the same levels of nitrogen in the system results in much more algae growth than it did two decades ago," Rheuban said.
This increase in algae growth and chlorophyll means that water quality is worse for the same amount of nitrogen, which has big implications for water quality targets and clean up plans.
An analysis of long-term, water quality monitoring data reveals that climate change is already having an impact on ecosystems in the coastal waters of Buzzards Bay, Mass. The impacts relate to how nitrogen pollution affects coastal ecosystems. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Read more at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.