Sea off New England had One of its Hottest Years in 2023, Part of a Worldwide Trend


The sea off New England, already warming faster than most of the world’s oceans, had one of its hottest years on record in 2023.

The Gulf of Maine, which abuts New England and Canada, had an annual sea surface temperature nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal last year, scientists with the Portland, Maine-based Gulf of Maine Research Institute said Monday. The institute said it was the fifth-warmest year on record for the Gulf of Maine, a body of water critical to commercial fishing and other maritime industries.

The Gulf of Maine has emerged as a case study for the warming of the world’s oceans in the last 10 years, and the research institute said in a statement that last year’s warming was “consistent with the long-term trend of increasingly warm conditions driven primarily by” climate change.

The early portion of the year was especially warm, said Dave Reidmiller, director of the Climate Center at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

“It’s consistent with that long-term trend. It also was extremely dominated by extraordinary warmth in the early quarter of the year,” Reidmiller said. “The Gulf of Maine continues to warm at three times the global average.”

While 2023 wasn’t the hottest year on record in the Gulf of Maine — that was 2021 — it was a notably hot year by numerous metrics. The first four months of 2023 had an average monthly sea surface temperature that was in the top three warmest overall years on record, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute said in a report released earlier this year.

February, March and April all set new records for highest monthly sea surface temperature in the Gulf of Maine, the report said. There were also many new daily records for sea surface temperature, especially in February and March, the report said.