Thursday, October 06, 2016

Gulf Stream Slowdown Tied to Changes in Southern Hemisphere

This is a depiction of the global ocean circulation.  In the Atlantic Ocean, warm water travels north at the surface, while cooler water travels south at depth.  Researchers are studying what controls the strength of this circulation. (Credit: NASA) Click to Enlarge.
The ocean circulation that is responsible for England's mild climate appears to be slowing down.  The shift is not sudden or dramatic, as in the 2004 sci-fi movie "The Day After Tomorrow," but it is a real effect that has consequences for the climates of eastern North America and Western Europe.

"It doesn't work like in the movie, of course," said Kathryn Kelly, an oceanographer at the UW's Applied Physics Laboratory.  "The slowdown is actually happening very gradually, but it seems to be happening like predicted:  It does seem to be spinning down."

The study looked at data from satellites and ocean sensors off Miami that have tracked what's known as the Atlantic overturning circulation for more than a decade.  Together they show a definite slowdown since 2004, confirming a trend suspected before then from spottier data.

Read more at Gulf Stream Slowdown Tied to Changes in Southern Hemisphere

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