The supposed impact of global warming on the Gulf of Maine over the past decade has hit a multitude of media outlets. Example: take Weather.com’s article Global Warming Is Changing the Gulf of Maine, Imperiling Its Lobster, Fish Catch. According to the article, Gulf of Maine temperatures were marching along with the global average from 1982 to 2004, but then over the past decade, starting in 2004, the Gulf of Maine began warming at a rate that was 10 times faster than the previous rate.
So let’s take a look at the sea surface temperature data for the Gulf of Maine, and see what story they have to tell.
2004 to 2013 TREND MAP
For those readers who are wondering where in the world the Gulf of Maine is, I’ve highlighted its location on a trend map of ocean surface temperatures for the period of 2004 to 2013. See Figure 1. For the past 10 years, yes, the surface of the Gulf of Maine warmed at a high rate…along with the Kuroshio-Oyashio extension east of Japan and the coastal waters of western Australia. Other than those regions and a few others, global sea surface temperatures have cooled (not warmed) over the past decade. Note the negative number also highlighted on the trend map.
We’re using the coordinates of 41N-45N, 71W-66W for the Gulf of Maine sea surface temperature data in this post. That’s less than one 5-degree latitude by 5-degree longitude grid. So consider the size of the region.
The NOAA annual ERSST.v3b-based sea surface temperatures for the Gulf of Maine (1854-2013) are shown in Figure 2. Sea surfaces there were relatively cool from the 1870s until the 1920s, when there was an upward shift in the late 1920s. Sea surfaces were quite warm in the Gulf of Maine from the early-1940s to the mid-1950s. There was a dip and rebound in the 1960s. There appears to have been another upward shift in the late 1990s, followed a few decades later by a spike in surface temperatures in 2012.
I’ve highlighted the period of 2004 to 2013 in Figure 3 to give you an idea of the period they’re concerned about.
NO LONG-TERM WARMING SINCE 1930
The long-term data show the sea surface temperatures for the Gulf of Maine shifted upwards in the late 1920s. So let’s look at the sea surface temperatures there since 1930, Figure 4. While there was a recent uptick in the sea surface temperatures for the Gulf of Maine, the linear trend of the data show the warming rate there was basically flat, at only 0.004 deg C/decade, since 1930. Human-induced global warming appears to have eluded the surface temperatures of the Gulf of Maine.
In fact, without that spike in 2012, the sea surface temperatures of the Gulf of Maine would have cooled since 1930. See Figure 5, which presents the data and trend from 1930 to 2011.
NOTHING UNUSUAL ABOUT THE MOST RECENT 10-YEAR AVERAGE OR 10-YEAR TREND
The articles focused on the last decade, so maybe there something unusual about the recent decadal temperature or decadal warming rate for the Gulf of Maine. Nope.
Figure 6 shows the 10-year-average sea surface temperatures (trailing) for the Gulf of Maine. About “trailing”: the last data point at 2013 indicates the average surface temperature for the period of 2004-2013, and the data point before it presents the average for the period of 2003-2012, etc., working back in time to the first data point at 1863 for the period of 1854-1863. The 10-year-average sea surface temperatures for the periods ending in the early 1950s were noticeably higher than today.
And Figure 7 presents the 10-year trends in the surface temperatures of the Gulf of Maine. There were 10-year periods ending in the early 1930s and early 1970s when the surface of the Gulf of Maine warmed faster than they have recently.
Somehow, I don’t think any of this would come as a surprise to the fishermen and lobstermen of the Gulf of Maine. They understand the effects on their businesses of natural variations in ocean temperatures.
It’s really tough to claim that human-induced global warming has caused a warming of the Gulf of Maine, when, if you lop off the last two years of data, the surfaces there have cooled for more than 80 years. Refer back to Figure 5.
Just another example of unfounded alarmism.
The data presented are available through the KNMI Climate Explorer.
Thanks to blogger Alec, aka Daffy Duck for advising me of this nonsense.
I’ve got lots if family and friends up there.
So, according to Weather.com the abundance of lobsters in the Gulf of Maine is yet another good global temperature proxy? I would like to see that data.
Thanks, Bob. I was afraid this could be serious; I like lobsters.
Eastern Ontario Canada is experiencing record heat in the midst of an unprecedented drought. You article is nothing more than pathetic misinformation.
Most intelligent readers will not even click on your article on Google, you’ve had only 2 positive comments in 2 years.
Hansel, thank you for your comment. You’ve displayed ignorance at an unprecedented level. No one with the slightest bit of common sense would look at a 2-year-old post about the Gulf of Maine sea surface temperatures and expect it to relate to today’s weather conditions in Eastern Ontario.
You wrote, “You [sic] article is nothing more than pathetic misinformation.”
I presented publicly available data in that post. Do you have data that contradicts it?
Further, most readers read the cross post at WattsUpWithThat two years ago, where all posts receive thousands of views, sometimes tens of thousands of views.
Good bye, Hansel. Thanks again. You made me laugh.
Thanks for your article, I just watched WMTW’s (channel 8 news in Portland Maine) alarmist piece on the warming of the Gulf of Maine and noticed how they selectively utilized the last 50 years of gulf temperatures purposely leaving out the 1940-1960 increase to make their point the temperatures have been rising. This is typical of climate change alarmists picking and choosing data that reinforces the misinformation they spew. While the story was extensively hyped as the possible end of Maine lobstering due to rising gulf temperatures, their own expert stated that was unlikely to occur.
There’s one thing you’ve forgotten, Gulf of Maine shrimp. Because of the rising sea temperatures we haven’t had a shrimp season for the last 3 years and no season this year. Daffy Duck may have friends and family ‘up there’ I AM here! I’ve been here since 1960, right on the coast and with a lot of good friends who fish for a living.
I’d be interested in seeing these charts updated to the present. I tried, using the site linked to (the KNMI Climate Explorer), but couldn’t make it happen because the longitude option seemed limited to “E” (East). I could not figure out how to type in a “W” latitude range. Any help with this would be very much appreciated. (I am a Massachusetts resident and I hear a lot about rising water temperature, but without reference to long term data. So I have an amateur’s interest in this topic, and I find the charts in this post fascinating.)
Typo corrected: “I’d be interested in seeing these charts updated to the present. I tried, using the site linked to (the KNMI Climate Explorer), but couldn’t make it happen because the longitude option seemed limited to “E” (East). I could not figure out how to type in a “W” longitude range. Any help with this would be very much appreciated. (I am a Massachusetts resident and I hear a lot about rising water temperature, but without reference to long term data. So I have an amateur’s interest in this topic, and I find the charts in this post fascinating.)
Dave, at the KNMI Climate Explorer, west longitudes are input as negative numbers.
Bob, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
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Not sure if this opens, but it is my attempt to update the basic findings above. It looks to me that the point you made is even stronger now, because the SSTs have come down in recent years.
If you have time, I’d love your reaction to the chart and whether it looks like I got the parameters right.
Also, could you tell me a bit about the ERSST v 3b dataset? Is it considered solid/authoritative? Why use it instead of other alternatives on that KNMI website? (I know nothing about the SST datasets.)
Thanks very much.
Thanks very much for putting the time in on this – it’s extremely difficult for a layman to find accurate data on GOM temperature record that doesn’t have some type of slant to it.
I run a tour boat in Mount Desert Island, where Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor are, and I get harassed about AGW often, usually at the end of the tour by someone who want’s their ideas affirmed. It’s extremely uncomfortable for me, not to mention bad for business, to engage with these people, because my understanding is that the GOM has warmed maybe 1 degree C over the past century, in keeping with the trend coming out of the last ice age which started roughly ten thousand years ago and has resulted in a roughly 150′ sea level rise during this period.
What I’d like to have is a thoroughly documented chart that most effectively shows the fluctuations or changes in ocean water temperature in the Gulf of Maine over the past century with the most up to date data available, print it out, laminate it, keep it on the boat and just say “here, this is what I understand to be the most accurate data for these reasons, make of this what you wish.”
Because I find most data politicized with the author’s biases and even quasi-scientific corrections to the numbers, I find it extremely difficult to pass along information I trust to be as true as possible. Can you recommend a chart for this purpose, including the scientific bodies who contributed data and any adjustments or assumptions they may have made? I would greatly appreciate any assistance you could provide. I talk to about 4,500 people a year, face to face, about issues concerning the health of the ecosystem in the GOM and this is going to be a more and more central issue regardless of whether is should be or not.