New research, led by the University of Massachusetts Amherst reveals, for the first time, not only that the coastal Northeast—from Maine to Delaware—is heating faster than most regions of North America, but that this heating is linked to drastic alterations in the ocean and atmospheric conditions over the North Atlantic.

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“What does global warming mean for the Northeast?” asks Ambarish Karmalkar, professor of geosciences and researcher at the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center at UMass Amherst and lead author of the paper which recently appeared in “Nature Climate Change.” As Karmalkar started to pursue this question, he began noticing two disconcerting phenomena: the coastal Northeast is warming faster than most other regions in the U.S., and the northwestern Atlantic Ocean is also warming at a much faster rate than all the oceans as a whole. “I wanted to know if there was a link between these two trends, and if so, what that link is.”

“The key findings here are that the observed warming in coastal Northeast is exceptional,” says Karmalkar, “that some of the biggest populations centers in the U.S. are suffering the greatest degree of warming, and that this warming is being driven both by equally rapid trends in the Atlantic Ocean and by changes in atmospheric circulation patterns.” Additionally, Karmalkar’s research shows that, not only are Northeastern winters getting warmer, as expected, but significant and rapid summer warming is happening along the coast.

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