According to a 2015 study by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the waters of the Gulf of Maine, which stretch between Cape Cod and Nova Scotia, are warming faster than 99.9% of the world’s oceans. Rising 3 degrees celsius in the last decade alone, the waters of the Gulf of Maine are rapidly becoming a focus for scientists interested in studying the effects of future climate change right now in a real world setting. It’s a local test of what is likely to come globally.
Impacts on marine life include:
- The cod fishery that was over-fished for decades currently stands at only 4% of sustainable levels and has not rebounded as expected despite an effective moratorium on cod fishing in the Gulf
- Lobster populations and harvests are at an all-time high due to the warmer water and lack of cod predators
- Local species are moving north and into deeper water and new populations of black sea bass, green crabs and long fin squid are showing up on the Maine coast
- Phytoplankton concentrations are 25% of what they were a few decades ago. As an important foundation of the food chain, this bodes ill for marine life generally.
The cause of the recent temperature rise seems to be a reduction of cold deep water entering the gulf from Newfoundland and Greenland due to the global warming induced rapid ice melt occurring there which is changing cold water currents.
Here are a few great articles that go into more depth:
Portland Press Herald Big Changes are Occurring in one of the Fastest-warming Spots on Earth
New York Times Cod’s Continuing Decline Traced to Warming Gulf of Maine Waters
Yale University’s Environment 360 Fast-warming Gulf of Maine Offers Hint of Future for Oceans