Ecosystem Targets and Supporting Indicators
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We use two different temperature indicators here to try to improve our understanding of decadal and long term changes in water temperature. The long term winter average temperature shows us relative temperature change at several stations throughout the region over time. It helps us see the decade scale-up and downswings in the regional data, as well as the overall year to year variability. We choose winter temperature because it is less impacted by daily weather patterns and station locations. In the summer, there can be several degrees of difference between a nearshore or an offshore station, and/or a cloudy vs. sunny day, which is much larger than the year to year signal. but in the winter, LIS is a pretty uniform temperature.
The other dataset shows seasonal averages in Niantic Bay. This dataset is much shorter, but higher resolution. By clicking the individual seasons on or off in the legend, you can more clearly see the patterns within each season
Near-surface water temperature has been measured regularly for the last 30 years in Niantic Bay by the Millstone Environmental Lab. Each year, temperatures are reported as seasonal averages. This data set represents the longest continuous record of water temperatures in Long Island Sound. The long term winter graph shows several longer datasets from throughout the region. In most cases, these measurements are taken at least weekly from near-surface inshore waters in the vicinity of various laboratory facilities
Average seasonal water temperatures have been slowly but steadily increasing at this location in Long Island Sound. Winter temperatures appear to be increasing more rapidly than spring, summer or fall temperatures, and winter 2012 is the warmest since the inception of this record by a large margin. Increases in surface water temperatures have been linked to observed changes in the fish community. Cold-adapted fish have been observed less frequently in recent years, while warm-adapted fish have been observed more frequently. The combination of increasing water temperatures and changing the fish community is believed to be indicative of climate change. The overall mean from 1976 through 2015 is 3.90°C (39.02 F) for winter, 11.22°C (52.20F) for spring, 20.07°C (68.13F) for summer, and 12.24°C (54.03F) for fall.
Winter defined as January-March, spring as April-June, summer as July-September, and fall as October-December.