Home > NewsRelease > The narwhals’ tale and the ocean fetch from Baffin Hollow to Bigelow Bight
The narwhals’ tale and the ocean fetch from Baffin Hollow to Bigelow Bight
Dr. Rob Moir -- Ocean River Institute Dr. Rob Moir -- Ocean River Institute
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Cambridge , MA
Tuesday, January 16, 2018


I have known communities that believe all of their children are above average. Yet, I never expected to hear ocean conservation colleagues on the waterfronts of Boston and Portsmouth say their sea water was uniquely special.  They say the Gulf of Maine water body is warming faster than anywhere else in the world.

These concerns of being the-frogs-worse-off-in-a-stovetop-kettle arose from a report in a respectable science journal.  The findings boiled down to two sentences that gave alarm to the discussions that followed. “Between 2004 and 2013, the mean surface temperature of the Gulf of Maine rose a remarkable 4 degrees F.” Last year’s “rise in temperature exceeded those found in 99 percent of the world’s other large bodies of saltwater.”  The authors were quick to conclude that where there are summer increases in temperature there must be evidence of climate change.

Perhaps there was too much deconstruction of marine ecosystems, too much simplifying down to one easily measured factor, temperature, that would tell all one needs to know. The challenge was to reconcile what the authors claimed with individual understandings of the workings of their ocean.  A whale watch narrator out on Stellwagen Bank explained global warming as like a blanket (of greenhouse gasses) on the water, warming it.   Inferred was that this bit of ocean is warming faster than in other ocean places because there is a thicker climate change blanket here than over there.  I got an image of the world wrapped in a patchwork quilt of varying thicknesses, and unfortunately we got a thick patch.

Climate Change is not place specific; it’s not regional; it’s global.  The winds blow around the world because the world is spinning.  The molecules we breathe are redistributed evenly in the atmosphere.  Some of the air we breathe was air in China.  The climate change blanket is of one thickness everywhere.  It does not bunch up like your comforter at the end of the bed to warm your feet more than your shoulders.  Instead, as the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere goes up the climate change blanket thickens uniformly.  Therefore, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, more than 400 parts per million, has been and continues to be measured on far flung Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and in Barrow, Alaska. Just two locations gather climate change information of parts per thousand carbon year after year for the entire globe.

At the science café in the basement of the Portsmouth Brewery, a marine biology graduate student studying lobsters said the surface waters of the Gulf of Maine were warming faster than anywhere else.  I said it is a good thing lobsters don’t live in the surface waters.  His explanation for why this is bad for crustaceans on ocean floors was that they can correlate surface water temperature with temperatures deep down in water column.  When scientists are reductionists and over simplify, then they have to correlate and extrapolate to figure how the system really works.

He went on to explain how lobsters in the Gulf of Maine were being landed in record numbers while lobster populations south of Cape Cod were crashing to record lows.  Rising temperatures have been wreaking havoc to lobsters of the shallow, sandy waters to the south. The good life was for lobsters of the colder and deeper waters of the Gulf of Maine.

The Massachusetts Lobstermen Association think differently.  They are blame the discharge and run-off of waters from the land burdened with increased amounts of nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus.  Lobster boats out of Martha’s Vineyard must carry a vat of boiling water in the back of the boat.  The pots are dunked into the bath to rid traps of 30 to 40 pounds of algae before being set again.  Lobstermen hold the nutrients coming off of lush green lawns of waterfront estates responsible for making life difficult.

The whale watch narrator and graduate student stretched their explanations to reconcile the incongruities of the Gulf of Maine waterbody warming faster than anywhere else.  The problem is that we defer and accept without question the conclusion of a reputable science article, especially when it confirms a belief in something difficult to experience in nature, climate change.  The science journal only verified the facts, the methodology used, data collected, and statistics used to make sense of it.  The inferences, discussion and conclusions belong solely to the authors.

Good science is repeatable.  So I went into the kitchen to test my understanding of oceans empirically with a measured pint glass and a hair dryer.  I poured some old wine up to the 12-ounce line.  I added a level tablespoon of salt to bring the salinity to about 40 parts per thousand or 4% salt.  This is a salinity that is closer to the Mediterranean Sea than to the Gulf of Maine.

Like the Mediterranean, the Gulf of Maine is a sea beside the Atlantic Ocean.  Due to the many rivers that flow into it, the Gulf of Maine is an estuary. It is less salty than the ocean.   The Atlantic Ocean has a salinity of about 36 parts per thousand salt.  The Gulf of Maine is about 34 parts per thousand salt. The Mediterranean Sea is closer to 40 parts per thousand salt. Less rain water puddling on its surface and more evaporation helps.

I stirred the pint glass with a long handled spoon.  Later I found much salt still crystalized on the bottom, so perhaps this was closer to Gulf of Maine seawater after all –  Gulf of Maine in a glass.

I poured water fresh from the tap out of a small pitcher onto a spoon so as not to disturb the wine dark sea.  I filled it to the brim, to the full 16 ounces.  There was some mixing because the surface water floating on top of the sea took on a pinkish color.

Global Warming came in the form of a turned-on hair dryer, held close to the surface of pint glass.  The hot wind made the water surface ripple a standing wave increasing the surface area.  I turned my cell phone’s video recorder on. Where the water turned abruptly from pink to red was the halocline, the boundary between salty and fresh water.  I watched halocline at the 12-ounce mark in the glass. There was no disturbance, no mixing of surface and deep water.  After a few of minutes, the hair dryer was turned off.

Energy as heat from the hair dryer had gone into the pink surface layer.  Yet, there was no mixing of surface waters into the deep red water.  The boundary layer between water bodies remained at the 12-ounce mark. Had the surface water mixed, the portion closest to the wine red water body would have become it and the halocline would have moved up.  The boundary between water bodies had not been disturbed by the hairdryer’s hot air.  Had I left the glass full overnight, convection would have mixed the waters by morning so that the density was the same throughout the glass.  The vastness of ocean water masses prevents their temperature from changing much.

This is why one does not warm a cup of coffee with a hair dryer.  In the air, the hair dryer moves molecules, convection.  Convection is why a hair dryer is best at drying hair.  In coffee, the water molecules pass heat to adjacent molecules, conduction.  Because water is denser than air it takes a lot more energy to heat the same volume. Convection in a microwave, getting the molecules moving faster, is much faster for warming a cup of coffee than is conduction.

The third form of heat transfer is radiation.  The heat lamp in a fancy bathroom will warm your body once out of the shower, but it will not dry your hair as quickly as the rush of air molecules from a hair dryer. Radiation is the reason for warm seawaters south of Cape Cod and around Prince Edward Island due to sun warming the sands beneath shallow waters.  The Gulf of Maine stays colder because the waters are too deep for sunlight to warm the ocean floors and boulder reefs.

Another finding from the research is: “Between 2004 and 2013, the mean surface temperature of the Gulf of Maine rose a remarkable 4 degrees (F).”  Over a ten-year period of sampling the data, recent years were found to be four degrees warmer than much of the earlier data.  Four degrees is most impressive for an annual summation of monthly averages; but it’s not for the mean surface temperatures for just the hottest months of summer.  Some June and July temperatures were four degrees warmer than normal and some three degrees below normal.  Finding statistical significance in the scatter of data points made publication possible.

The last summer of surface water sampling (2013) happen to have extraordinary weather according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center.  From March to May, the Northeast was warmer than average, with May 1.3 degrees F above average.  In Maine, temperatures in May were 1.6 degrees F above average.   Through the beginning of May, it was abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions.  Rains during the second half of May eased conditions resulting in a wetter than average May.

June was another warmer than-average-month in 2013 by 0.7 degrees F. June was also very wet receiving 7.19 inches of precipitation. At 172 percent of normal, this was the third wettest June since 1895.

The Northeast continued to be warmer than normal in July. With an average temperature of 72.4 degrees F, it was 2.5 degrees F above normal and the 12th warmest July on record.  Massachusetts reported their warmest July in 119 years.

The wet conditions of June spilled over into July for the Gulf of Maine. The region ended July with 5.14 inches of precipitation, 121 percent of normal, making it the 15th wettest July since 1895. On the 17th, Caribou, Maine, had its wettest July day on record with 3.81 inches of rain, the Northeast Regional Climate Center reports.

Surface water temperatures during the summer exceed the temperatures of the large water body below, the Shelf Water.  A hot spring followed by a wet summer, as were the conditions in 2013, result in record-setting warm waters spreading over the sea’s surface.

Sea surface temperatures were collected from a ship during the summer months. Not only is this when daylight periods are longest, summer is also when the Gulf of Maine surface water moves differently than other times of year.  Snow melt and spring rains cause the most water to flow off the land and into the Gulf of Maine. Because it is less dense, fresh water spreads out over the surface. Surface water has therefore the greatest volume at this time of year. The influx and weight of the seasonal pulse drives a counter-clockwise current around the enclosed Gulf of Maine to turn fastest.  Water sampled in June at one location will be in a different location come July.

The Northeast Regional Climate Center began reporting satellite imagery of surface water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine and ocean waters East into the Canadian Maritimes to give a more comprehensive perspective. Four years of observations reveal a complexity to surface temperatures that are influenced by proximity to shore, depth, currents, wind and weather.

In 2014, sea surface temperatures during summer were generally warmer than normal. Warm anomalies of +0.9°F to +1.8°F dominated the Scotian Shelf, the Bay of Fundy, and the Gulf of Maine. The warmest anomalies of around +1.5°C (+2.7°F) were located along the inshore portion of the southern Scotian Shelf. The warm anomalies were weakest over the deeper waters of Jordan Basin and the shallow waters of Georges Bank. The exceptions to this warm pattern were in Massachusetts Bay and directly east of Cape Cod, with cold anomalies of around -0.9°F. The regions of cold anomalies and weak warm anomalies were primarily a result of cooler conditions in July and August.

In 2015, summer sea surface temperature anomalies in the Gulf of Maine reflect both summer circulation processes and residual warm water masses from previous time periods. Temperatures over most regions were up to 1.8°F above normal, most strongly over the deeper basins offshore and the Scotian Shelf. These reflect continuing warm water masses from the spring and previous summer.  A distinct region of cold anomalies (up to 1.8°F) from Penobscot Bay to Cape Cod reflects anomalously strong flow of water out of the cold Eastern Maine Coastal Current into the western Gulf. This flow is separated from the coast by warmer temperatures in shallow regions. Cooler anomalies were also present in much of the Bay of Fundy.

In 2016, summer sea surface temperature anomalies in the Gulf of Maine were warmer than the summer long-term average over the entire region. These warm anomalies were strongest (greater than 3°F) over the deeper basins, especially in the western Gulf of Maine and on the Scotian Shelf, and weaker (less than 2°F) in shallower coastal regions and in the Bay of Fundy. These region-wide warm conditions continue from those that were present in fall, winter, and spring of 2015–2016.

Maps of the distribution of surface water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine remind of the marbling of paper found in old books.  No two summers are the same.  For each summer there were different combinations of factors causing various spreads of surface water temperatures across the gulf.  To predict the next summer is impossible because these seas are notably complex.  Ocean areas are influenced by, and interconnected with, adjacent ocean areas. Thus, literally no sea is an island.  People add to the mystery by acting differently on different years damming rivers and shunting sewage and storm waters directly into the sea.  Cutting a forest expedites the flow of more water to the sea. Planting a garden reduces runoff.  Watering a lawn or flushing a toilet may impact in some small way surface waters of the Gulf of Maine.

The claim from the journal article, the “rise in temperature exceeded those found in 99 percent of the world’s other large bodies of saltwater,” is misleading because the surface water measured is not a large ocean water body.  It is relatively fresh seasonal water from off the land mixed with precipitation that puddles on the sea surface.  It may even be ephemeral, mixing into the Shelf Water during winter storms when there is little input from frozen rivers. During the summer over basins, surface water is the top 1% of the Gulf of Maine seawater.

The other 99 percent of water in the Gulf of Maine consists of three distinct water bodies.  In the deep portions of the Gulf there is a fudge-ripple swirl of Slope Water and Labrador Current Water that enters the Gulf from the Atlantic through a sixty-mile-wide passage between Georges and Browns Banks.  Above is Shelf Water that spreads out over the banks.

The Gulf of Maine is like a layer cake with warm fresh waters frosting the surface and cold dense oxygen-rich waters from the Labrador Current below, along with plenty of Shelf and Slope Waters.  The volume of the Labrador Current water entering the Gulf of Maine varies from year to year; the volume entering is unpredictable with no apparent reason for the annual fluctuation.  It is not understood. The oceanographic terms for the annual influx of Labrador Current Water are barn door open, barn door closed, and barn door ajar.

So we talk of bodies of water, water masses. The separation of water masses is marked by a thermocline, the sudden change in temperature.  The boundary is also marked by a halocline, a change in salinity.  This is because each water mass has a characteristic density with a signature of salinity and temperature.

The practice of finding and measuring the thermocline, the boundary layer between two water masses, was perfected during World War II in the Straits of Gibraltar.  Two currents flow between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.   Mediterranean Outflow water is saltier and denser.  It flows out under inflowing Atlantic water which is less dense even though it is colder.

The problem was German submarines were passing Gibraltar undetected by turning off their engines and drifting with the current.  Setting off depth charges in one water mass would not sink submarines in the other.  There was a need for an instrument that would find the thermocline and locate the boundary between Atlantic Water above and Mediterranean Outflow below.

Athelstan Spilhaus built the bathythermograph with much ingenuity.  A copper thermo-coil unwound with increasing temperature and wound tighter when colder.  A point was put on the end of the coil.  To measure depth a small bellows contracted with increasing pressure.  A glass slide was mounted on the bellows to move with depth.   The slide was coated with a single layer of gold. The point on the thermo-coil scribed through the gold when coil moved with temperature and slide-on-bellows moved with depth.

On the Research Vessel Westward, a 100-foot steel brigantine sailing ship out of Woods Hole, I was responsible for using the bathythermograph, Spilhaus’s small yellow torpedo-shaped device, to find the thermocline where water bodies met.  The bathythermograph was shackled to a wire.  A small electric winch was bolted on the deck of the ship near the back.  The bathythermograph was dropped into the water. The winch would spin freely for a set amount of time until I applied the brake.  The bathythermograph was then winched aboard.  A curved flush two-inch metal plate was slid back and the wet glass slide was pulled out.  One had to be very careful, while often working on a heaving sea, to hold the slide by the edges and not to smudge the layer of gold on glass.  The slide was placed in black plastic and metal viewer that showed the squiggle line on a grid of temperature and depth when held to the light.

Salinity is much more difficult to measure than temperature.  A bottle device, called a Nansen bottle, was attached to a cable and lowered down.  A heavy brass messenger was slid down the wire tripping the bottle to close and capture some seawater.  The water went into the lab and was titrated.  A reagent was carefully measured drip by drip into the seawater until the indicator turned color.  After some calculations the amount of reagent added worked out to the amount of salts, the salinity.  The life of an oceanographer was mostly watching water drip and mixing up starch solutions in the galley at odd hours of the day.  Oceanographers were known by their silver-nitrate stained fingers.

Techniques changed when it was discovered how well seawater conducts electricity is directly related to salinity. The bathythermograph was replaced with the conductivity-depth-temperature instrument, the CDT.   Like a Nansen bottle, the CDT only measured one bit of seawater.  Often multiple CDTs were attached to a much larger metal frame called a rosette.

The CDT Rosette is improving ocean science with much better information.  However, it can only be deployed when the ship is stationary and is a laborious process.  With increasing costs of ship time and much other oceanography able to be done remotely from satellites (and from armchairs), there have been much less observations of the depth of thermoclines where ocean water bodies meet.  The assumptions are that boundaries between massive ocean bodies are fixed or changing at geologic time scales. The dipstick science of taking a temperature once at the sea surface, like a Fitbit on a human body, was considered sufficient to tell what is going on in the ocean.

Climate Change is what’s going on in the ocean.  Yet, the global warming deniers are myopic with self-interests.  One group is tied to the fossil fuel industry where any lessening of use of their product costs them money. Another deniers group are owners of beach front houses.  These folks want science to tell them for how many years may they continue to enjoy their ocean view and still find a one more non-believer to buy it from them before it’s too late.

And so people go down to the sea with thermometers looking for the slow boil trajectory to when it is time to step away from the shore.  The thermometer is the wrong instrument because water conducts heat with surprising rapidity.  You can hear this confirmed by powerful exhalations, if not cries, of swimmers jumping into Gulf of Maine waters. The speed of heat transfer from human body to water is for the swimmer exhilarating.  The temperature of ocean water bodies beneath the surface waters does not change. Unless, the water body is so shallow it is affected by radiation off the ocean floor or by fresh water off the land.

People doubt the science of climate change because of an inability to predict the future.  The ocean is not a soufflé where all ingredients are known and stirred in.  Oven temperature can be set, and after a predictable amount of time soufflé rises. The ocean has an astounding complexity of surface water patches above.  Below are currents and conveyer belts movement of immense water masses. Science cannot predict the consequences of there being 450 parts per million carbon in the atmosphere because of influences by the ocean, it is wrapped around nearly three quarters of the planet.

To correlate rising air temperature due to climate change with rising carbon levels, the ocean’s actions as a heat sink must be better understood.  The ocean buffers changes in the atmosphere by taking up heat.  This prevents scientists from being able to draw lines that predict the effects of global warming.  The more heat absorbed by the ocean, the greater becomes the volume of the water body beneath the more weather-fickle surface waters.  The amount of heat taken-up by the ocean is indicated by rising thermoclines.

The greatest effects of Climate Change are found at the poles.  For example, summer melt of the Arctic icecap and the opening of the Northwest Passage to ships from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.  The Labrador Current, that cools the deepest basins of the Gulf of Maine, is a continuation of the Baffin Bay Intermediate Current flowing south through the Davis Straits into the Labrador Sea.  Researchers went to Baffin Bay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, to measure the temperatures and depths of the surface waters and water masses, to find the thermocline, and determine the extent of the underlying water mass absorbing heat.

Baffin Bay has three water masses.  Arctic Water is near the top. West Greenland Intermediate Water and Deep Baffin Bay Water is the water mass found only in the deepest basins.  The surface water on top was found to have a summer minimum temperature at a depth of less than 300 feet.  This indicates the extent of downward reach of cold winter air, as only the surface waters change with the weather.

Baffin Bay is often not the calmest waters for lowering a CTD Rosette from a worm-gear hydrowinch that carefully pays out the cable.  Steel cable, dipped in the ocean and subjected to sea spray, rusts easily.  To protect the cable, menhaden oil is poured on as the wire drum spools out.  Much cable is needed. The average depth of Baffin Bay is 3,000 feet.  In Baffin Hollow the deepest portion is 7,008 feet.  It takes hours to sample a water column all the way down, weather permitting.

Examining the evidence of warming in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, there was scant historical data prior to 1950. More data is available between 1950 and 2003.  In Baffin Hollow bottom water temperatures exhibited a statistically significant warming at depths between 400 and 2,100 meters (about 1,300 to 7,000 feet). The maximum warming was found between 600 and 800 meters (2,000 to 2,600 feet).  This warming was as large as 0.2 degrees C (0.36 degrees F) per decade.

Given the challenges of deploying over the side of a ship CTD Rosette water trapping arrays enough times to collect statistically meaningful data, researchers looked for an easier method to learn about Baffin Bay thermoclines and water masses.

Narwhals dive to the ocean floors of Baffin Bay for halibut ten to twenty-four times a day.  Fourteen narwhals were captured and fitted out with satellite-linked time-depth-temperature recorders.  When they surfaced, data was transmitted to the researchers.  A CDT-Rosettes were used from ship and helicopter to verify and calibrate the nearby whale-based temperatures with depth.

One of the deepest diving cetaceans in the world, narwhals proved to be excellent “ocean samplers.”  Dives lasted more than twenty-five minutes. Given the distance underwater involved, dives were vertical. Deep vertical dives are ideal for repetitive depth and temperature casts. Narwhals also favor diving for fish beneath Arctic offshore ice.  For obvious reasons these are areas where few oceanographic studies have been done.  Much of Baffin Bay is covered by ice in various forms throughout the summer.

Tags put on narwhals in August and September lasted up to seven months before falling off.  Data was transmitted with every surface and every breath of the whales.  Data was collected well into the winter months.

Narwhals documented that the surface water, that in contact with overlying sea ice cover, was becoming less deep, 160 to 260 feet thinner than previously believed.  Beneath this relatively cool water is a larger warmer water mass, the West Greenland Intermediate Water.  This body of water has gained heat from diverse origins in the Arctic Ocean and Nordic and Irminger Seas. The depth of its thermocline varies from 1,000 to 5,000 feet deep.  Narwhals found that the body of cool surface water is lessening and warmer waters below are expanding upwards.

The West Greenland Intermediate Water absorbed excess heat generated through the processes of global warming.  In Baffin Bay the top boundary of the Water, as indicated by the thermocline, moved upwards by 160 to 260 feet.  The tongue of ocean that thermometers were put under was a small part of the water body that wraps around portions of Greenland. This water body absorbed heat far from Baffin Bay.

This is how climate change warms the waters of the Gulf of Maine.  It’s from a distance.  Transported and mixed by currents flowing through spectacular seascapes.  Absorbing excess heat that results from too much greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, thanks mostly to us, the ocean buffers the heat effects of climate change on the planet.  When monthly average temperatures do not rise over decades as much as scientists predict, a big part of the miscalculation is due to ocean currents and upwelling moving in ways not fully accounted for.

For oceans, climate change has a more troubling effect than rising temperatures.  When four CO2 molecules are released into the air, one of the molecules goes into the ocean.  The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the CO2 released annually. When carbon rises in the atmosphere to over 400 parts per thousand, a corresponding increase is not found in the ocean, and so there was little concern.  Instead, scientists were alarmed to learn, carbon dioxide in seawater changes the chemistry making the ocean more acidic. Climate change makes seawater more corrosive, destructive of calcium-based life forms.  As a result, oyster farms in Oregon had to close when their oyster spats fizzled and dissolved.  In this particular ocean place, the waters had become too acidic.

Climate change is killing marine life, starting with pteropods and oysters.  Increasing acidity in the ocean unbinds and unravels ocean ecosystems species by species and population by population.  I fear clams will be next.  Fried clams may go the way of Dodo meat. The cascade of extinctions may become an avalanche and we would all be the poorer for the lost.

The headwaters of the West Greenland Intermediate Water are above the Denmark Strait Cataract. The world’s largest waterfall is underwater between Iceland and Greenland.  Here cold denser Arctic Ocean Water crashes into the bulwark front of warmer Atlantic Ocean Water.  One-hundred-seventy-five million cubic feet (5 million cubic meters) of water per second, about 2,000 Niagara Falls, plunges 11,500 feet down, three times the height of Angel Falls in Venezuela, to form the West Greenland Intermediate Water.

The West Greenland Intermediate Water flows south along the King Frederick VI Coast, eastern coast of Greenland.  Ragged black slates and schists tower 2,000 feet at Cape Farewell.  Offshore the intermediate water mass turns northwest to travel along Greenland’s western shore into Baffin Bay.

Flowing south from Baffin Hollow, the West Greenland Intermediate Water moves through the Davis Straits at a stately pace of about one mile per hour.  Entering the Labrador Sea, the water mass mixes and increases in volume with the colder and less salty Baffin Island Current to become the Labrador Current.  It flows southeast moving seawater at 7.6 sverdrup or 7.6 million cubic meters per second.  Transporting icebergs, the Labrador Current is a hazard for ships.  Off the craggy coast of Newfoundland, the traveling water mass influenced by the Coriolis effect veers right with centrifugal motion to a southwesterly direction.

Before the Flemish Cap, a 12,000 square mile international fishing bank, the Labrador Current splits to pass the Cap through the Flemish Pass Basin next to Newfoundland and to flow outside the cap over the Sohm Abyssal Plain.  The nutrient rich waters of the Labrador Current pass below nutrient-poor waters warmed by the Gulf Stream.  Heavy fogs arise from the meeting of the two currents. The result is one of the richest fishing grounds in the world.

The Labrador Current traverses the Scotian Shelf to enter the Gulf of Maine through the Northeast Channel. The sixty-mile-wide deep water passage is between Browns Bank off Cape Sable and Georges Bank off Cape Cod.  The volume of Labrador Current water entering the Gulf of Maine varies unexpectedly from year to year.  As we say, barn door open, barn door closed, and barn door ajar.  The less Labrador Current Water entering, the more Slope Water floods into the Gulf of Maine.

Clearing the Northeast Channel, the Labrador Current spills into Georges Basin.  Then north to Jordan Basin and on to the west finally into Wilkinson Basin.  The cold Labrador Current deposits the last of its nutrient-rich load of nitrogen and phosphorus beneath the Western Maine Coastal Current in Bigelow Bight off the sandy shores of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The Ocean River Institute provides opportunities to make a difference and go the distance for savvy stewardship of a greener and bluer planet Earth.  www.oceanriver.org 

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