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WHOI scientists on warming atmosphere, weaker Gulf Stream

gulf stream nyt

A graphics-rich article in The New York Times, “In the Atlantic Ocean, Subtle Shifts Hint at Dramatic Dangers, features perspective from WHOI President and Director, Peter de Menocal. The story also cites work by physical oceanographer Chris Piecuch on the weakening Gulf Stream and highlights data from the OSNAP mooring and float array that WHOI helps maintain. Scientists are working to better understand the complex network of currents that the Gulf Stream belongs to, not only at the surface, but thousands of feet below the surface. Changing ocean currents may result in “a monstrous change,” said de Menocal. Climate tipping points, once crossed, have cascading effects globally and may result in rapid changes in temperatures, precipitation patterns, and sea level rise. “It is a switch,” continued de Menocal, “and one that can be thrown quickly.” Piecuch’s study of sea level differences across the Florida Current at the start of the Gulf Stream along Florida’s coast, points to a weakening of the current over the past century.