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October 8, 2014

Warmer Temps in the Gulf of Alaska

Tags: Gulf of Alaska Project

NPRB-funded research found warmer ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska this summer. Ocean surface temperatures there were a comfy 55-57°F. A team of scientists that have been studying the Alaskan shelf south of Seward, Alaska, found the upper 300 feet of the ocean to be from 1 to 5°F warmer than the September average they have measured over the past 17 years.  “It was like working in a bath tub out there” said chief scientist Professor Russ Hopcroft, “except for the wind and 12 foot swell. This year was more than 1 degree warmer than any other year we have studied.”  Warmer temperatures can have large consequences to marine life that are accustomed to colder year-round temperatures. Understanding the details of what is happening on the Alaskan shelf – and most importantly its biological consequences – requires regular ship-based surveys that are in place to capture extreme events such as 2014. The North Pacific Research Board, Alaska Ocean Observing System and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council have formed a consortium to ensure such information is collected in Alaska and distribute that information to the public as soon as it becomes available.