By Ryan Matsunaga ( | First Posted: Apr 26, 2013 04:18 PM EDT
Tags Ocean, biology

The study predicts that the maximum rise by the year 2100 is 30cm (Photo : Reuters)

According to the latest Ecosystem Advisory, a report by NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), sea surface temperatures in certain areas have hit their highest recorded level in 150 years.

The advisory collected data from the second half of 2012, and found that the temperatures in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem were unusually high. The sea surface temperature hit a record of 14 degrees Celsius, exceeding the previous high set in 1951. This reflects the highest jump in temperature to date (since measurements began in 1854), and one of only five times the temperature has ever shifted by more than 1 C.

The measurements were taken using both satellites and long-term ship-board recordings.

This temperature increase has so far been effecting the distribution of fish and shellfish on the Northeast Shelf, and scientists are also predicting it will impact the spring 2013 plankton bloom. However, what these changes will mean for the ecosystem as a whole is currently a mystery.

"What these latest findings mean for the Northeast Shelf ecosystem and its marine life is unknown," said Michael Fogarty, head of the Ecosystem Assessment Program. "What is known is that the ecosystem is changing, and we need to continue monitoring and adapting to these changes."

Fogarty also stated that the changes in the ecosystem, including movement of sea life populations, are controlled by a very complex set of varied factors.

"It isn't always easy to understand the big picture when you are looking at one specific part of it at one specific point in time," Fogarty said. "We now have information on the ecosystem from a variety of sources collected over a long period of time, and are adding more data to clarify specific details. The data clearly show a relationship between all of these factors."

These Ecosystem Advisories have been issued twice a year by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center since 2006. Their goal is to summarize the overall ecological conditions in the region.

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