New Research Shows Summer Lengthening in the Gulf of Maine

Summer in the Gulf of Maine is now longer and warmer than ever — as much as two months longer. New research by a team of scientists led by Andrew Thomas of the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences confirmed that surface water temperatures have increased over the last three decades, with the Gulf of Maine warming at about 0.4 degrees Celsius per decade. The study used thirty-three years of satellite measurements to examine the seasonality of sea surface temperature trends for the northeastern North American continental shelf. Researchers separated the data into months so they could quantify and geographically map seasonal trends.

The new analysis showed that the increase is actually much stronger in the summer and early fall months, from June to October, and weaker in the winter months. Summer, defined as the number of days above a specific temperature each year, has lengthened – both by earlier springs and later falls –throughout the northeastern North American continental shelf region. Over the thirty-three years the Gulf of Maine has experienced two additional summer days per year, so that summer now lasts two months longer than in 1982. The Gulf of Maine region in particular has also experienced a steady delay in fall timing.

Scientists are now working on applying the same seasonal analysis to the whole North Atlantic and other regions of the North American continental shelf.

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View the study here.