Sunday, August 8, 2010

The connection between climate change and ocean circulation

If you ask climate change scientists about the connection between climate change and ocean circulation many of them will tell you that there is a very strong connection between these two. A team of scientists from the University of Cardiff has managed to find the evidence which connects fluctuations in ocean circulation to the climate change and temperature.

The primary focus of their study was Atlantic meridional overturning circulation that carries tropical surface waters northwards, and cold deep water from the North Atlantic southwards to fill the Atlantic basin. In Atlantic basin this water gets mixed with deep waters that originate in the Antarctic region.

Ocean circulation.

Climate change scientists already know that in times when ocean circulation is strong, heat is moved efficiently from the tropics to the poles, and when the circulation is weak the poles become colder.

Scientists believe that that during particularly cold periods in the last ice age Atlantic meridional overturning circulation was very weakened, and when this circulation strengthens after a period of weak circulation, it doesn't just return to its "normal" extent but it gets stronger than before.

The lead author of this study, Dr Stephen Barker from Cardiff University, explained this very vividly by saying "when the circulation kicks back in, it comes back with a vengeance".

These changes in ocean circulation are extremely important, and according to a scientific analysis they were responsible for the increase of 9 degrees Celsius over the course of just a few decades, 14,600 years ago.

So many factors influence climate change, and ocean circulation looks to be among the most important ones.

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