A recent study published in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate shows that the Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperature (SST) increased by approximately 1 C (1.8 F) between 1970 and 2020 — equivalent to a warming rate of approximately 0.19 C (0.34 F) per decade. That means that the SST of the Gulf of Mexico warmed at twice the rate of warming in the global ocean.
To estimate the change in the study “Upper-Oceanic Warming in the Gulf of Mexico between 1950 and 2020,” the study’s authors — including co-author and GCOOS Board Member Dr. Patrick Hogan — analyzed 192,890 temperature profiles collected between 1950–2020 (publicly available in the World Ocean Database) via gliders, Argo floats and CTDs (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth), which provided a snapshot of oceanographic conditions over multiple depths at single time and location.
The study’s authors, from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and the Northern Gulf Institute (NGI), a NOAA Cooperative Institute, write that these changes could cause a series of environmental issues — including more stratification, acidification, hypoxia and more intense hurricanes causing loss of wetlands and damage to coastal communities.
- Study Citation & link: Wang, Z., T. Boyer, J. Reagan, and P. Hogan, 2023: Upper-Oceanic Warming in the Gulf of Mexico between 1950 and 2020. J. Climate, 36, 2721–2734, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-22-0409.1.