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News Picks : Maine cod population on the decline due to global warming

By: Physics Today
30 October 2015
New York Times: Whereas sea surface temperatures around the world have been rising due to climate change, the warming has not been uniform. Over the past 10 years, “sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Maine increased faster than 99% of the global ocean,” according to a study published in Science. One consequence has been a decline in the region’s Atlantic cod population, despite increasingly severe limits being imposed on cod fishing. Andrew Pershing of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and his colleagues studied temperature data in the gulf going back to 1982 and compared that data with the rates of increase in ocean temperatures elsewhere. They propose that the accelerated water temperature rise in the Gulf of Maine may be due to a combination of atmospheric warming and an influx of increasingly warmer water via the Gulf Stream. The resulting temperature change affects fish such as cod in various ways, impacting their physiology, reproduction, and eating habits. The study shows that when determining cod catch quotas, it is essential that environmental changes be taken into account.

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