© 2023 Maine Public | Registered 501(c)(3) EIN: 22-3171529
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

The Gulf of Maine's recent warming comes after more than 900 years of cooling

APTOPIX Maine Daily Life
Robert F. Bukaty
The sun's rays strike the rocky coast of Acadia National Park, in Maine, Thursday, May 2, 2013.

A new study finds that the recent, rapid warming in the Gulf of Maine comes after at least 900 years of cooling temperatures.

For the study, led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, researchers collected ocean quahogs from the Gulf and looked at isotopes in their shells to estimate ocean temperatures over hundreds of years.

After using climate model simulations, the scientists found that recent warming follows at least 900 years of cooling, which appeared to be driven by volcanic forces.

Karl Kreutz, a professor at the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute, said that the warming is driven, at least in part, on greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

"The only way that we can explain these observations in the Gulf is by this rapid increase in greenhouse gases, that have started since around the time of the Industrial Revolution, and of course have continued to today," he said.

Kreutz said the modeling suggests that the Gulf has warmed faster over the last 100 years than at any other century-long period in the last millennium.

"All of those trends suggest the Gulf is going to keep warming, at least at the rate that it is now," he said.

Kreutz said the rapid rise shows the need for urgent action to curb carbon emissions across the globe.

Scientists say that 2021 was the warmest year on record for water temperatures in the the Gulf of Maine.