Warmest Cape Canaveral Veterans Day Surf in 100,000 Years

I kayaked in a balmy ocean off Cape Canaveral in just a bathing suit today.  The water temperature was nearly 81 degrees on this 11th day of November, the warmest it has been on Veterans Day in over 100,000 years.

So how do I know this?  The last 50 years is easy.  I grew up in nearby Merritt Island, and have spent most of my life on or near the water here in Brevard County.  For as long as I have been here, the mid-November water temperature has never, ever reached 80 degrees.  November water temperatures here in the low 70s are common, with occasional hot years in the upper 70s, and cool years in the 60s.  See for example, this chart of water temperatures by month at the Trident Fishing Pier in Port Canaveral, from 2005 - 2012:

Quartile Plot

From:  http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/view_climplot.php?station=trdf1&meas=st

The chart shows that ocean water on the warmest outlier November days hit around 27 degrees Celsius (roughly 80.5 degrees F).  This happened only twice before, in 2006 and 2009, and in both years it happened only on November 1st (not the 11th and 12th, as it did this year).  In both 2006 and 2009, the ocean temperatures had cooled to a more typical 75 degrees Fahrenheit by Veterans Day.  For raw data from the Trident Fishing Pier for the years 2005 – 2014, go here: http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_history.php?station=trdf1, click on the year you want, and then click the text file link under the paragraph titled ‘Method Two.’  You will find multiple readings per hour for each day of the year, with the water temperature shown in degrees Celsius in the 4th column from the right.  Compare any of these years with data from the last 45 days this year, and you can see we have had the warmest mid-November beach water in the past 11 years. 

We can also compare this with data dating back to 1988 from Station 41009, the NDBC buoy 20 miles offshore from Cape Canaveral.  Although the ocean temperatures 20 miles offshore are typically warmer, and fluctuate less than temperatures near shore, the data show that 2009 had (until this year) the warmest November since 1988.

Along with the Port Canaveral buoy data from the last 11 years, and the offshore data for the last 27, I have many, many memories of surfing and windsurfing over the past 40 years.  Until the past decade or so, I usually needed a wet suit by mid-October, and always by November.  Going back a couple decades, the ocean water was much colder in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s than it has been in recent years.  This is not surprising, because global temperatures have risen drastically since the start of the industrial revolution (as seen below), with all of the hottest years ever recorded occurring in the past 20 years.



From the chart of recorded global temperatures above, we can easily see that over the past 135 years, temperatures were much cooler than they have been in the past 20 years.

Likewise, from the chart below, we can see that the past 20 years have also been warmer than at any time in the past 2,000 years, and it is not even close.  Both charts are from this Wikipedia page.



Finally, here is a chart of temperature estimates for the last 800,000 years, gleaned from EPICA ice cores in Antarctica (also from this same Wikipedia page). 


As you can see, the Earth has warmed steadily since the end of the last ice age 15,000 years ago (although not nearly as fast as it has since we started pumping carbon into the atmosphere at the dawn of the industrial revolution).  The Earth -- and the Cape Canaveral surf -- is warmer today than it has been for over 100,000 years.

Toasty warm regards from Cape Canaveral,