The winter of 2014-15 was one of the warmest in recorded history as per National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However there is one region in the North Atlantic which is contrary to the trend seen in other parts of the ocean. The phenomenon is also consistent right since 1970.

The particular spot in the North Atlantic has shown temperatures which are to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit colder than average. According to a recent study, the cold patch could be one of the indicators of a dramatic slowdown in the Gulf Stream. It is a worrying situation since the Gulf Stream moves huge amounts of heat north from the equator to the pole, passing off the East Coast of the U.S. and into the North Atlantic.

Melting Greenland ice sheet slowing the Gulf Stream

This could add credence to the theory put forth by experts that global warming could trigger so-called “tipping points” in the climate system, which, once started cannot be stopped. Recently the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has opined that there is a 10% likelihood of a Gulf Stream shutdown before year 2100. Some experts say that the likelihood of such a scenario is still higher.

Co-author Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, in a blog post for RealClimate said, “Evidence is mounting that the long-feared circulation decline is already well underway. Evidence is mounting that the long-feared circulation decline is already well underway.”

The slowdown of the Gulf Stream as the study finds is unprecedented in hundreds perhaps thousands of years. Another tipping point could be the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The process brings forth a huge influx of freshwater from the ice sheet. It is also one of the main sources of freshwater inflow into the North Atlantic Ocean.

As the fresh water, which lighter and colder than heavier salty water pours into the area, it tends to sit on top of the water column. Accumulating over the years, it interferes with the formation and sinking of dense, cold and salt-enriched waters. This in turn slows the Gulf Stream and affects the ocean circulation downstream as well.

The rapid slowdown of the Gulf Stream can increase sea level rise rates along the highly populated Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coasts of the U.S. It could also precipitate much colder conditions than the normal in the northern parts of Europe and America.

21 Responses

  1. Apu Bugolligosh

    What’s next? Daylight savings time causes/is proof of global warming? How about fermentation of yogurt? Yeah! Let’s try that fermentation of yogurt angle next!

    • Billy

      LOL, Luddites who hate capitalism, and any other non-Leftist schemes of freedom, hiding behind false and altered “studies.” You cried wolf, peanut, so if ever there’s a true crisis, what you termites have done in the past will cripple all your subsequent arguments. Chicken Little, call your office…

      • Apu Bugolligosh

        Exactly. Good luck getting their credibility back.

      • credulousdolt

        I see that “Luddite” is your special word. I think you’ve mistaken a belief in appropriate and remedial technologies with a pervasive hatred of technology. Oh, well, at least you get to type “Luddite.” I get to type “Penis.”

  2. MarilynDHunter

    “A fraudulent conspiracy motivated by money, perpetrated on the gullible” – does this best describe the science – or Denialism?

    Tragically, fossil fuel money is being used to manipulate those who are unwilling or unable to face the facts.

    • Billy

      YOU’RE the only one being manip’d, MDH; why don’t you set an example by walking everywhere you go? Or perhaps riding a bicycle? Set an example; put your money where your foot-wide mouth is. There’s plenty of room, take my word for it…

      • Nottheusual1

        Or just bloviate about all the things everyone else should do since you’ll do nothing. But run other people down for telling the truth. Represent.

  3. Dibble

    Sounds like warmist doomongery. There have been various studies into the rate of flow for the Gulf Stream. Some indicate no change while others even point to an acceleration. The cool North Atlantic winter is probably just natural variability – as happened in the Eastern USA.

      • curly4

        Let us keep the discussion a little more civil. A better term might be deluded.

      • Billy

        Of course, it is; glad you Leftist Luddites don’t have an argument; otherwise, you’d post it. Keep up the kindergarden NewSpeak, Doltameier; you’re making our case for us, and then some…

      • Nottheusual1

        Says the poster child for TEAplectitude.

      • credulousdolt

        My, my, you are touchy. And humorless. If you were confident in your position– whatever it is you think it might be– you’d be neither. Should I have gone for “phally’s?”

        Left leaning people are somewhat less likely than “conservatives”– a largely meaningless word now, really– to be Luddites, since they’re less likely to have to protect some kind of backwards-looking perversion of a religious doctrine.

      • CB

        I agree. “Conservative” as it’s used by people who describe themselves as such now seems to mean “mentally ill”.

        Given how dangerous climate change is likely to be, I’d suggest the mental illness actually has a self-destructive component to it.

    • bobcat4424

      There are no such studies on the North Atlantic. Period. All studies above the 45th Parallel show slowing and have shown slowing since 1968. (The article says 1970, but that is the date of publication, not the date of the observations.) And there is little room for error since the Gulf Stream is the best documented current in the oceans with documentation going back to the 1300’s.

      The cool winter in the North Atlantic has the same cause as the cool weather in northeastern North America — dramatic warming of the north Pacific. Natural variability is pretty much eliminated since the waters off the northeast coast this year were about 11F higher than normal — the cause of most of Boston’s snow.

      • thecrud

        Stop trying you really cant fix stupid they are even trying to elect one president.
        I am certain it is too late to turn back anything now.
        Even after the full effects are seen with every persons own eye, like chlorofluorocarbons, Florida, New York under water. There will still be new pollution events as it will not be enough for humans to have learned their lesson.

      • bobcat4424

        It is important to keep trying. While stupid is permanent, ignorance can be “fixed.” While the scientific debate over the tipping point ended 15-20 years ago, there is still the opportunity to moderate the problems. And as my grandfather used to say, “When you find you have dug yourself into a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.” We can stopping using the atmosphere and oceans and rivers as massive toilets.

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