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New report finds last year was second hottest on record in the Gulf of Maine — just behind 2021

Ocean Warming
Robert F. Bukaty
FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2017, file photo, a lobster fishing boat heads out to sea at sunrise off shore from Portland, Maine. New 2018 data indicates that the Gulf of Maine, one of the fastest warming bodies of water in the world, is in the midst of an all-time hot stretch.

A new report from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute shows that last year was the second warmest year on record in the Gulf of Maine, just behind 2021.

According to the report, 2022 fits into a recent pattern. With the exception of 2019, each of the last 10 years is within the top ten warmest years on record.

The institute's Janet Duffy-Anderson says the warming has been even greater than anticipated.

"I think the thing that makes it interesting is we're not only in a position of prolonged, sustained warming, but we're at warming levels that are much higher even than sustained warming had been projected," she says.

Gulf of Maine Research Institute
The ten hottest years on record in the Gulf of Maine, as of 2022.

Researchers are trying to better understand the precise mechanisms of warming. The institute's Dave Reidmiller says shifting ocean currents are one factor.

"Over time, what we've seen happen is that the relative influence of the Gulf Stream in the Gulf of Maine has increased relative to that of the Labrador Current," Reidmiller says.

He notes that temperatures are likely to continue to climb, due to climate change.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.