2015 in the Gulf of Maine

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Happy 2016, loyal Seascape reader(s)!  Both Nick and I now have realer jobs than when we started the blog, and our blogging has definitely taken a hit.  We're also shifting our focus to Twitter, where Nick is @SeascapeScience and I'm @Sci_Officer. 

For my first post in a very long time, I wanted to give a summary of temperature trends in the Gulf of Maine.  The rapid  warming in the Gulf of Maine received a lot of attention this year.  Most of it stemmed from our paper in Science linking rapid warming in the Gulf to the collapse of the region's cod fishery.  I'd like to point out that the unique warming in the Gulf was first reported here, although that probably just shows how slow I am at getting real papers written.

2015 was a wild and crazy year, as you can see by the seasonal cycle using OISST data:GOMTScycle_2015_full.jpg
We started with some of the warmest January temperatures, but then February happened. February 2015 was one of the coldest months ever in New England, and temperatures dropped in the Gulf of Maine.  The cooling was strongest along the coast and temperatures remained above average offshore. This resulted in spring temperatures that were close to average over much of the Gulf.

GOM2015quarterly.jpg
Temperatures bounced back in the summer, and for a few days in August, the temperature in the Gulf actually exceeded the records for those days set in 2012.  We ended the year like we began, with near or above record temperatures.

Adding it all up, 2015 just edged out 2014 for the title of third warmest year since 1982.  

Rank

Year

SST Anomaly

1

2012

2.0932

2

2013

1.2081

3

2015

1.1685

4

2014

1.1646

5

2010

0.9091

6

1999

0.8259

7

2011

0.7891

8

2002

0.7250

9

2006

0.5545

10

2000

0.4843


Over the last 30 years, the Gulf of Maine has warmed at a rate of 0.054° per year, which is 5 times the global average rate we reported in our paper.  The warming is even stronger over the last 15 years: 0.113° per year.  

GOMTStrend_2015_full.jpg

If we shift to the ERSST data, we can look at the Gulf of Maine over the last century and more. 

GOMtrend_2015.jpg

I'm always struck by the very warm conditions that occurred around 1950.  These were associated with a northward shift in the Gulf Stream, similar to what we've seen in recent years.  The difference, is that we are dealing with an overall warmer climate.  Still, only recently have the 5 year (yellow) and 10 year (red) running mean temperatures exceeded those in the 1950s.  Based on this data set, 2015 was the fourth warmest year, exceeded only by 2012, 1949, and 1952.

Rank

Year

SST Anomaly

1

2012

1.7059

2

1949

1.1949

3

1951

1.0967

4

2015

1.0391

5

2013

0.9141

6

2014

0.7208

7

1999

0.6661

8

1947

0.6245

9

2006

0.5733

10

2010

0.5534


I think 2016 will be another interesting year in our little corner of the ocean.  Outside the El Nino region, our December temperature anomaly was one of the warmest on the globe.  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/350/6262/809.short

2015_12_sst.jpg

NOAA is projecting that this winter will be mild.  If this plays out, we could enter spring with temperatures similar to those in 2012.  Of course, we could also get another February 2015.  Stay tuned.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy Pershing published on January 16, 2016 1:44 PM.

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