Oct., 25, 2012: Scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI, USA) have discovered that the Gulf Stream diverged well to the north of its normal path last year, causing the warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures along the New England continental shelf from late October 2011 onwards. The investigation began after local fishermen made physical oceanographers Glen Gawarkiewicz and Al Plueddemann aware of unusually high surface water temperatures and strong currents on the outer continental shelf south of New England in December 2011.

The researchers’ findings, “Direct interaction between the Gulf Stream and the shelfbreak south of New England,” were published in Scientific Reports.

To begin to unravel the mystery, Gawarkiewicz and his colleagues assembled data from a variety of sources and recreated a record of the Gulf Stream path during the fall of 2011. First, they tapped into data collected by a programme called eMOLT, a non-profit collaboration of fishing industry, research, academic and government entities, run by James Manning of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. For more than a decade the programme has recorded near-bottom ocean temperatures by distributing temperature probes to lobstermen.

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