For several weeks, sea surface temperatures in the western North Atlantic Ocean have been running significantly above normal. FILE PHOTO

It’s too darn hot in the North Atlantic



ELLSWORTH — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a report last week confirming that unusually high ocean surface temperatures aren’t confined to the Gulf of Maine.

According to NOAA, for several weeks, sea surface temperatures in the western North Atlantic Ocean have been running significantly above normal.

Data from the agency’s polar-orbiting satellites show that the normally chilly waters off the coast of New England and eastern Canada have been running as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average this summer.

Scientists believe that climate change is likely responsible for the warming waters. As melting glaciers in Greenland dump more freshwater into the North Atlantic, the ocean circulation that keeps waters along the coast of eastern North America cold may be starting to weaken — allowing more warm water to pool into the Gulf of Maine.

Warm sea surface temperatures help transport more heat energy and moisture into the atmosphere. The persistently warm waters off the coast of the Northeastern United States and Canada this summer have contributed to record-warm overnight temperatures and high humidity levels.

NOAA’s recently released monthly climate report shows that much of the Northeast experienced record-warm overnight low temperatures last month.

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]