[Coral-List] Anomalously high water temperatures in the Florida waters and in the Bahamas

Szmant, Alina szmanta at uncw.edu
Mon Jun 21 10:10:40 EDT 2010

Hi Mark:

I was in La Parguera PR the first week in June and the water temperatures in the seaward shallows surrounding Magueyes were ca. 30.8 oC.  The Laurel ICON station is not reporting temperatures that high but I found the waters outside Turrumote to be quite warm (unfortunately, I forgot the thermometer that day).  I saw some Agaricia partially bleached.  I agree that this may be a serious bleaching year for the upper Caribbean.


Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Professor of Marine Biology
Center for Marine Science and Dept of Biology and Marine Biology
University of North Carolina Wilmington
5600 Marvin Moss Ln
Wilmington NC 28409 USA
tel:  910-962-2362  fax: 910-962-2410  cell: 910-200-3913

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Dr. C. Mark Eakin
Sent: Sunday, June 20, 2010 7:10 PM
To: Coral Listserver Listserver
Subject: [Coral-List] Anomalously high water temperatures in the Florida waters and in the Bahamas

Our satellite data show that sea surface temperature (SST) along the Florida coast and in the Keys has taken a dramatic upturn since mid-May (2010), with this year seeing first an extreme cold outbreak earlier this year and now an extremely warm spring season. (See the web pages linked from below and the following text for details.) 

SST in the region increased significantly in mid-May with a dramatic increase near 2ºC over several days at some locations. Another SST hike started in early June and continues along the Florida coast, in the Keys, and also in the Bahamas.  These two events pushed the SST in the region way above what we have seen in our satellite data from the past 10 years for the region.  At many locations, SSTs are now more than 1ºC above the highest SSTs observed at this time of the year.  At some locations, SST has already reached a level that is not usually reached until late July to early August and exceeds the thresholds for developing coral bleaching. In fact, all of our Florida reef pixels currently are at Bleaching Watch or Bleaching Warning status. Most pixels through the Greater and Lesser Antilles and around the Caribbean coast of South and Central America are at Bleaching Watch as well..

Surface wind speed has been low during the past few days in the region. It may accelerate the already significant warming, if persistent.

This summer is most likely a stressful bleaching season for the corals along the Florida coast, in the Keys, and in the Bahamas.  The forecasted active hurricane season may relieve the bleaching thermal stress as the hurricanes did in 2005, but this will depend on storm tracks.

Anomalously warm conditions have existed across most the Caribbean since January and our Outlook product shows potential for strong warming this year in the Caribbean and Western Pacific.

Current bleaching alert areas:

Time series graphs and data of the Virtual Stations in Florida:

A sample multi-year time series graph of Palm Beach, Florida.

Rate of SST increase during the past three weeks:

Doldrums wind condition in the region:

SST anomaly:

Bleaching Outlook:

All of above pages are on Coral Reef Watch's website:

C. Mark Eakin, Ph.D.
Coordinator, NOAA Coral Reef Watch
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Center for Satellite Applications and Research
Satellite Oceanography & Climate Division
e-mail: mark.eakin at noaa.gov
url: coralreefwatch.noaa.gov

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