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Over the past 50 years, mean annual water temperature in northeastern U.S. estuaries has increased by approximately 1.2°C, with most of the warming recorded in the winter and early spring. A recent survey and synthesis of data from four locations in Southern Rhode Island has led us to hypothesize that this warming may be amplified in the shallow (<1 m), nearshore portions of these estuaries. While intertidal areas are not typically selected as locations for long-term monitoring, we compiled data from published literature, theses, and reports that suggest that enhanced warming may be occurring, perhaps at rates three times higher than deeper estuarine waters. Warmer spring waters may be one of the factors influencing biota residing in intertidal regions both in general as well as at our specific sites. We observed greater abundance of fish, and size of Menidia sp., in recent (2010–2012) seine surveys compared to similar collections in 1962. While any linkages are speculative and data are preliminary, taken together they suggest that shallow intertidal portions of estuaries may be important places to look for the effects of climate change.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 License.