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Seaweed, Sharks, Storms Linked to Warm Atlantic Ocean

By Vickie Frantz, Staff Writer
July 23, 2012; 8:16 AM ET
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Above-average water temperatures in the northern Atlantic Ocean (ranging between 1 degree F and 7 degrees F above normal) are causing favorable conditions for seaweed growth, Great White Shark visits and severe thunderstorms.

"Manomet Point and the smelly seaweed," tweeted @allythibault.

Stinky Seaweed Washes Ashore
A non-native species of seaweed called Heterosiphonia japonica (also called red seaweed) have been invading beaches in New England this summer. Beachgoers have noticed the unpleasant odor given off by the decomposing seaweed.

The warm water temperatures along the northeastern coast of the U.S. are ideal for the growth of the seaweed. This is because the warmer water may help the seaweed pick up nitrogen in the ocean more efficiently, said Judy Pederson, advisory leader and project coordinator of the MIT Sea Grant.

The red seaweed grows best in waters that are between 66-77 degrees F, according to

Found mostly along the coast of northern Massachusetts, the seaweed is growing in waters that are currently 67.6 degrees F.

Great White shark photograph is courtesy of

Increased Shark Sightings Close to the Coast
Great White sharks have been spotted this July off the coast of New England. Warm waters are believed to be a factor.

The sharks are not normally seen until August or September. Warmer waters provide more food sources for the sharks, a larger gray seal population, causing them to migrate into the Atlantic earlier.

The Great White sharks prefer water temperatures that range between 54-75 degrees F.

"Wow thats crazy. Hope the family that lives here is ok. RT @JimCantore: RT @laird74: Westerville OH Storm Damage" tweeted Michelle Morrison on Saturday June 30, 2012.

Fuel for Severe Storms
Thunderstorms that move east into the Northeast usually dissipate when they hit cooler, marine air, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel.

The above-normal temperatures of the North Atlantic Ocean warms the air along the coast. A thunderstorm that meets the warmer air, will survive longer. Drawing in the warm, humid air could even cause the storms to intensify.

"For instance, warm, humid air from the Atlantic was a factor in the re-strengthening of a powerful thunderstorm complex, called a derecho, that cut power to millions in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. on Friday June 29, 2012," Meteorologist Meghan Evans explained.

Coastal New Hampshire 60 F 67.6 F
Coastal Massachusetts 67 F 67.6 F
Coastal New Jersey 70 F 74.1 F
Information from this chart is courtesy of NOAA and

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