Friday, April 29, 2011

African ocean current could boost Gulf Stream

David Fogarty in Reuters: An ocean current that flows down the east coast of Africa could strengthen a circulation pattern that brings warmth to Europe, according to a new study that challenges existing climate science. In a study in the latest issue of the journal Nature, scientists examining the Agulhas Current found more of the current's warm, salty water was entering the southern Atlantic, whose waters are cooler and fresher.

This in turn could strengthen the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic that brings warm waters and warmer temperatures to northern Europe. Until now, most studies suggest climate change would weaken the Gulf Stream over the coming decades.

In a further twist, the research team led by Lisa Beal of the University of Miami found signs that climate change had boosted the amount of water from the Agulhas current "leaking" into the south Atlantic over the past few decades.

This could challenge the findings of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In its last global assessment report in 2007, the panel said climate models showed it was very likely the Gulf Stream, also called the Meridional Overturning Circulation, would slow down during this century….

Sea surface temperatures in the Agulhas Current, from NASA

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