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A Surprising Turn

A Surprising Turn

May 17, 2018

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tend to a surface buoy on the deck of the research vessel Neil Armstrong. It was the latest expedition of the PEACH project, a multi-institutional collaboration to assess how climate change is affecting the coastal ocean off Cape Hatteras. On this cruise, the team led by WHOI physical oceanographer Glen Gawarkiewicz observed 70°F Gulf Stream water intruding onto the continental shelf, replacing the at least 10-degree-cooler water from the North Atlantic that normally flows there. And the direction of flow at the steep edge of the shelf was reversed: northward instead of southward. Gawarkiewicz says the persistent intrusion of warmer water is a disturbing trend that could have major implications for the ecosystem and coastal fishing industry. (Photo by Joleen Heiderich, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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