Gulf Stream slowdown to moderate warming in Europe
New research confirms the likelihood of a Gulf Stream slowdown in the North Atlantic. Scientists suggest the phenomenon will spare Europe from the worst of global warming.
Thermohaline Circulation is a massive ocean current system that carries warm water from the tropics north toward Europe. As water evaporates in the North Atlantic its salinity and density increase, and it sinks, cools and is carried south again.
The global conveyor belt includes wind-driven warm water surface currents like the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift — currents that moderate temperatures along the East Coast of the United States and Europe’s west coast.
Scientists have long predicted the Thermohaline Circulation would slow as global warming encouraged precipitation and polar melting, flooding the world’s oceans with cold freshwater.
Some researchers have speculated that a slowdown could precipitate an ice age in Europe.
New modeling by a team of researchers from the University of Sussex, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the University of California, Berkeley, show that’s not the case.
The slowdown won’t reverse global warming and plunge Europe into another ice age. Instead, it is expected to slow the rate of warming in the region. While the rest of the world warms more quickly, Europe will warm at a moderated pace.