Fast-warming Gulf of Maine Set New Record in 2021

By David Sharp.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — An ocean heat wave sent temperatures soaring to a new high last year in the Gulf of Maine, continuing an alarming trend in the important marine ecosystem, researchers said Monday.

The surface temperature was more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average and topped the previous record in 2012, according to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland.

The 2021 average temperature was 54.14 degrees Fahrenheit (12.3 degrees Celsius) compared to the previous record, 53.63 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius) in 2012, the researchers said.

It represents the continuation of a trend.

The rate of warming in the Gulf of Maine has been nearly triple that of the world’s oceans since the early 1980s, researchers said.

David Reidmiller, the institute’s climate center director, said the trend isn’t expected to slow without dramatic efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

“Going forward, most years are going to be warmer than what we’ve already experienced because of that long-term formula that’s baked in by man-made greenhouse emissions,” he said Monday.

The Gulf of Maine, which stretches from Massachusetts’ Cape Cod to the southern tip of Nova Scotia, has been warming faster than 99% of the world’s oceans in recent years, researchers say. And that’s worrisome because the gulf is such an important ecosystem for everything from plankton to rare North American right whales.