The Middle Atlantic Bight Cold Pool is warming and shrinking: Indices from in situ autumn seafloor temperatures

Kevin D. Friedland, Travis Miles, Andrew G. Goode, Eric N. Powell, Damian C. Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Cold Pool feature of the Middle Atlantic Bight (MAB) is a body of cold bottom water that develops in the spring and persists through the summer-autumn months. It is maintained by northerly currents and can be traced back to Arctic water masses. The Cold Pool provides habitat for many boreal species at latitudes far south of their normal range and plays an important role in the population dynamics of lower and upper trophic level organisms. Here, we describe changes in the extent and thermal properties of the Cold Pool using both observations and models. Two indices are developed based on a gridded, interpolated bottom temperature dataset; the first is a mean temperature indicator, and the second is a spatial extent indicator. The temperature indicator showed a significant increasing trend over the study period 1968–2019 and a single change point in 2008. Similarly, the area indicator declined significantly, also displaying a change point in 2008. Cold Pool maximum temperature and minimum size were observed in 2017, which is also known as a heatwave year in the MAB. The indices presented here support the view of a rapidly warming Cold Pool that is being limited in its spatial extent. Changes in Cold Pool hydrography will likely affect boreal species distributions and total ecosystem productivity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)217-223
Number of pages7
JournalFisheries Oceanography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science


  • Cold Pool
  • climate change
  • ecosystem
  • regime shift
  • temperature


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