Baltimore, MD - New data shows ocean water temperatures off the east coast hit their highest levels in the 150 years measurements have been kept.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration shows that during 2012, ocean temperatures hit 14 degrees Celsius, or 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest ever recorded.
The Atlantic has seen warm and cool phases over the last 150 years caused by different patterns developing across the globe. Currently, the Atlantic sits in a warm phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. The AMO index is correlated to air temperatures and rainfall over much of the Northern Hemisphere, in particular, North America and Europe such as North Eastern Brazilian and African Sahel rainfall and North American and European summer climate. It is also associated with changes in the frequency of North American droughts and is reflected in the frequency of severe Atlantic hurricanes.
"The Northeast Shelf's warm water thermal habitat was also at a record high level during 2012," the report states, "while cold water habitat was at a record low level."
The last time we have seen a major spike in warm waters occurred in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Temperatures in the Atlantic however, came down to normal levels years following that spike.