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The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC)—a deep-ocean process that plays a critical role in regulating Earth’s climate—is primarily driven by cooling waters west of Europe, finds a new international study published Feb. 1 in Science.
The ocean has a long memory. When the water in today’s deep Pacific Ocean last saw sunlight, Charlemagne was the Holy Roman Emperor, the Song Dynasty ruled China and Oxford University had just held its very first class. During that time, between the 9th and 12th centuries, the earth’s climate was generally warmer before the cold of the Little Ice Age settled in around the 16th century. Now ocean surface temperatures are back on the rise but the question is, do the deepest parts of the ocean know that?
New research led by University College London (UCL) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) provides evidence that a key cog in the global ocean circulation system hasn’t been running at peak strength since the mid-1800s and is currently at its weakest point in the past 1,600 years. If the system continues to weaken, it could disrupt weather patterns from the United States and Europe to the African Sahel, and cause more rapid increase in sea level on the U.S. East Coast.
A new five-year project funded by the National Science Foundation will, for the first time, allow scientists to directly measure these ocean pathways over the entire subpolar region of the North Atlantic. Oceanographers from WHOI and their colleagues from Duke University and the University of Miami will deploy a new observing system to measure the ocean’s overturning circulation in the northern North Atlantic Ocean.
A NASA-sponsored expedition is set to sail to the North Atlantic's saltiest spot to get a detailed, 3-D picture of how salt content fluctuates in the ocean's upper layers and how these variations are related to shifts in rainfall patterns around the planet.
Research led by oceanographers at WHOI and Duke University have teased out a new piece of the North Atlantic circulation puzzle, finding that much of the southward flow of cold water from the Labrador Sea moves along a previously unknown path in the interior of the North Atlantic -- a finding that may impact the work of global warming forecasters.
New scientific findings are strengthening the case that rapid climate change may be related to how vigorously ocean currents move heat between low and high latitude.
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