A new study shows that the waters in the Gulf of Maine, (which a previous study showed to be warming faster than 99.9 percent of the rest of the Earth’s oceans), are warming at an even faster rate than previously thought. The gulf sits at the intersection of two currents: the warmer water in the shifting Gulf Stream on the south and the colder water in the Arctic and Labrador streams to the north and east. Less of the colder water is entering the gulf, while more of the warmer water from the south is. The warming trend could result in a rise of 4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 80 years. This would result in catastrophic changes in the region’s ecosystem. For example, the cod population would be dramatically affected, since their normal habitat is in colder water temperatures.
From Sean Horgan, Salem News Staff Writer:
“The Gulf of Maine is really being subjected to a one-two punch,” said Vincent Saba, a NOAA Fisheries scientist and lead author of the study. “On one hand, the region is dealing with the elements of global warming being experienced in all of the oceans, but there also has been a change in the circulation of the two gulf streams that feed into the Gulf of Maine.”
The result, according to Saba, is that more of the warmer water contained in the shifting Gulf Stream is making its way into the Gulf of Maine from the south, while less of the colder water from the Arctic and Labrador streams are entering the gulf from the north and east.
“The Gulf of Maine really sits at the intersection of those two currents,” Saba said.