NOAA issues quarterly Gulf of Maine report

ELLSWORTH — The newly released Gulf of Maine Region Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook report offers some alarming news for climate change skeptics.

Despite considerable temperature fluctuations and several blizzards so far this winter, sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Maine, as predicted by scientists, remain above average, sustaining a trend observed since September 2015.

Issued quarterly in March, June, September and December each year, the report incorporates meteorological data generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Environment and Climate Change Canada and represents an ongoing collaboration between the two government agencies sparked by the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment.

According to the report, winter temperatures in the region from December through February were, on average, 2 degrees to 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal, with January seeing average temperatures as high as 9 degrees above normal in some areas.

During the same periods, precipitation was as much as 150 percent of normal in some parts of Maine. February precipitation, perhaps no surprise here, was as much as 175 percent of normal in parts of eastern Maine.

Data collected by NOAA and Environment Canada show that winter sea surface temperature anomalies in the Gulf of Maine were warmer than average over most of the region.

Temperatures over coastal areas of eastern Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia ranged from 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above average. Off the coast of western Maine and Massachusetts, and in the offshore Wilkinson Basin, temperatures were 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above average. Temperatures were 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above average in the heavily fished Jordan Basin, in the central Gulf of Maine and Scotian Shelf.

Over the next three months, both NOAA and Environment Canada are predicting higher than normal temperatures but also an easing of the drought that has plagued much of New England.

According to the Regional Outlook, Maine has a 50 percent chance of warmer than normal temperatures for the period March through May and, except in the extreme southwestern part of the state, a perceptible easing of the drought.

The temperatures were in concert with those throughout most of the eastern United States. According to NOAA, monthly temperatures averaged at least 10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal at many individual locations across the eastern half of the U.S., shattering February average temperature station records that had been set as far back as 1882, 1890, 1925, 1930 and 1932.

So far this year, despite February’s blizzards, NOAA’s North American Drought Monitor shows that southern Maine and the state’s coastal plane has been “abnormally dry” for this time of year.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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