Changing Hydrographic, Biogeochemical, and Acidification Properties in the Gulf of Maine as Measured by the Gulf of Maine North Atlantic Time Series, GNATS, Between 1998 and 2018

J Geophys Res Biogeosci. 2022 Jun;127(6):e2022JG006790. doi: 10.1029/2022JG006790. Epub 2022 Jun 7.


The Gulf of Maine North Atlantic Time Series (GNATS) has been run since 1998, across the Gulf of Maine (GoM), between Maine and Nova Scotia. GNATS goals are to provide ocean color satellite validation and to examine change in this coastal ecosystem. We have sampled hydrographical, biological, chemical, biogeochemical, and bio-optical variables. After 2008, warm water intrusions (likely North Atlantic Slope Water [NASW]) were observed in the eastern GoM at 50-180 m depths. Shallow waters (<50 m) significantly warmed in winter, summer, and fall but cooled during spring. Surface salinity and density of the GoM also significantly increased over the 20 years. Phytoplankton standing stock and primary production showed highly-significant decreases during the period. Concentrations of phosphate increased, silicate decreased, residual nitrate [N*; nitrate-silicate] increased, and the ratio of dissolved inorganic nitrogen:phosphate decreased, suggesting increasing nitrogen limitation. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and its optical indices generally increased over two decades, suggesting changes to the DOC cycle. Surface seawater carbonate chemistry showed winter periods where the aragonite saturation (Ωar) dropped below 1.6 gulf-wide due to upward winter mixing of cool, corrosive water. However, associated with increased average GoM temperatures, Ωar has significantly increased. These results reinforce the hypothesis that the observed decrease in surface GoM primary production resulted from a switch from Labrador Sea Water to NASW entering the GoM. A multifactor analysis shows that decreasing GoM primary production is most significantly correlated to decreases in chlorophyll and particulate organic carbon plus increases in N* and temperature.

Keywords: Gulf of Maine; nutrients; ocean acidification; phytoplankton; primary production; time series.