Speculation by scientists that the Gulf Stream could be weakening

The Guardian reports, 20th January 2014: “The UK’s run of rain-drenched summers could be ended by a slow-down in major Atlantic currents which bring warm, wet air to Europe, according to research. The currents were known to have weakened since 2004 but the new work suggests the trend began in the 1990s and shows no sign of ending.

The system of surface and deep water currents that govern the north Atlantic circulation is called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). One component of AMOC is the better-known Gulf Stream, which brings warm water northwards and keeps the UK’s climate milder than it would otherwise be. Previous ocean measurements showed AMOC has declined by 10-15% since 2004. But new data from the Labrador sea, a significant part of the AMOC system, and new computer climate modelling, led the researchers to conclude that the “measured decline is not merely a short-term fluctuation, but is part of a substantial reduction in [AMOC] occurring on a decadal timescale.”

Jon Robson, who led the research at the University of Reading, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, said: “Our findings suggest there could be a relative cooling of the North Atlantic sooner rather than later, perhaps over the next decade or so. In Britain we could see a return to drier summers, although it could also lead to more droughts in parts of Europe and Africa. However, there’s quite a bit of uncertainty about how fast changes might happen, and other influences — such as sea ice and greenhouse gas emissions — are also important.” He said the weakening of AMOC could also lead to fewer Atlantic hurricanes.

Sutton added: “A weakening of the AMOC could also mean a decline in the Gulf Stream, although there is currently no evidence that this is happening yet.”

Source: The Guardian, 20th January 2014. For the full text, see http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/20/gulf-stream-hot-summer-uk-climate-change

Please do share this

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • email hidden; JavaScript is required
  • RSS