New research shows that the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean is at its lowest level in 1,600 years, which could alter weather patterns in the United States, Europe and Africa.
This low circulation is an effect of climate change and could be catastrophic.
A new study published in Nature by University College London and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution shows that the circulation system of the Atlantic Ocean that cools the warm ocean water has no state in its heyday since the mid-nineteenth century.
The Atlantic Ocean is responsible for bringing hot water to the northern hemisphere. The circulation of the Atlantic Ocean decreased by 15 percent since the mid-twentieth century. That would be a decrease of 3 million cubic meters of water per second.
The Atlantic Ocean is part of what is called the global ocean conveyor belt. This system sends warm and salty water from Gulf Stream to the North Atlantic, which releases heat to the atmosphere that warms Western Europe. This causes the coldest waters to reach the bottom of the ocean and reach Antarctica.
According to one of the coauthors of the study, Dr. Delia Oppo, this survey is the first investigation that shows how the Atlantic Ocean has circulated. (19459009)
Scientists believe that Southern Meridional Circulation (AMOC) was interrupted for the first time at the end of the Little Ice Age, which was a cold period on Earth that lasted until about 1850, in water candy. This was caused by Arctic sea ice, melting ice sheets and glaciers, which diluted surface seawater and made it difficult to sink, causing the entire system to slow down.
Second study on AMOC
A second study published in Nature reveals that AMOC has been slowing more rapidly since the 1950s due to climate change. The study was led by Levke Ceasar and Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Climate Impact Research Institute. They analyzed the past temperatures of the sea surface to determine their findings.
They also used sediment samples from the ocean near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. This helped them determine how strong the circulation was over a thousand years ago. They could determine that the current slowed down about 160 to 170 years ago by examining the size of the sand grains. The stronger the current, the greater the grains of sand it can push.
Scientists in the first study concluded that this change could be natural or could be due to human-caused climate change.
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