Friday, April 27, 2018

Arctic Currents Change As Ancient Pacific Did

Changes in Arctic currents today appear to reflect similar changes thousands of years ago – in the North Pacific. Scientists think they may be linked.

Climate change and ocean current changes are linked. (Image Credit: Javier G R, via Wikimedia Commons) Click to Enlarge.
The recent discovery that Arctic currents have weakened significantly appears in some ways to be a repeat of what happened the other side of the Arctic in the distant past.

Thousands of years ago the circulation of the North Pacific ocean changed  substantially, releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, scientists in Scotland have found.

The change they have identified helped to warm the planet and to end the last Ice Age.  It happened about 15,000 years ago, though, so it should be of little concern to us today – except for one factor.

Several weeks ago an international scientific study published new and harder evidence that one of the planet’s key heat pumps, the currents which exchange warmth between the tropics and the Arctic, are weaker today than at any time in the last millennium.

“Humans have driven CO2 rise in the atmosphere as large as the CO2 rise that helped end the last Ice Age, but the man-made CO2 rise has happened 100 times faster.  This will have a huge effect on the climate system”

While earlier studies of northern ocean currents had relied on computer simulations, this later study is different: it is based on direct observation of what is actually happening in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

And what’s happening there now is not markedly different from what took place long ago in the North Pacific.  The researchers think their findings are strong enough to suggest a possible link, one which if established could have essential information for this generation.

The Scottish study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, also found that the changes in circulation resulted in a reduction of the amount of oxygen in the deep ocean.  The findings will help scientists to understand the processes controlling the exchange of CO2 and oxygen between the ocean and atmosphere.

Read more at Arctic Currents Change As Ancient Pacific Did

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