How Does Ocean Currents Affect Climate Change

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How Does Ocean Currents Affect Climate Change – It has been hailed as a radical change in scientific understanding of the global ocean circulation system and how it responds to global warming. Catastrophic scenarios involving accidental processes have been studied before and depicted in climate disaster films.

– Last month, it got pretty close. But instead of being played in the North Atlantic, as previously expected, it seems more likely to be on the other side of the world.

How Does Ocean Currents Affect Climate Change

How Does Ocean Currents Affect Climate Change

A new analysis by Australian and US researchers uses new, more detailed ocean models to predict the loss of billions of tons of ice and dramatic circulation in the Southern Ocean. Antarctica. For the North Atlantic, this may happen within the next three decades, rather than over a century, as models predict.

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Contacted for comment, senior oceanographers and climate scientists not involved in the study welcomed the results. “This is a really important paper,” said oceanographer Stefan Rahmstorf, head of the Global System Analysis Unit at the Institute for Climate Impact Research in Potsdam, Germany. “I think the method and design are reasonable.”

Both studies provide a completely new perspective on the effects of global warming on ocean circulation.

“This is the first study I’ve ever seen,” said Andrew Shepherd, a British polar researcher at Northumbria University in Newcastle. “I was really surprised by this work, but they convinced me. This is a matter for discussion. All eyes were on the North Atlantic. But now I hope the focus will be on the Southern Ocean.”

At the same time, there were persistent concerns that the North Atlantic circulation could shut down on the 21st.

Ocean Currents Are Slowing, With Potentially Devastating Effects

It seems that the century has ended. At the end of the last ice age, circulation was not lost and it was more stable and less prone to collapse than previously thought, according to a Swiss study published this month.

Together, the two studies provide a completely new perspective on the effects of global warming on ocean circulation, one of the major stabilizing forces of the Earth’s climate system.

The ocean circulation system, often called the Earth’s conveyor, follows a constant path through the Earth’s oceans, transporting water from top to bottom. It begins with water falling from the surface, then disappearing into the depths, then moving through the ground and not appearing on the surface for centuries. Global warming is reduced by removing heat and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and burying them deep in the ocean.

How Does Ocean Currents Affect Climate Change

Carriers of cold, salty water flow to the ocean floor in only two places: in the North Atlantic Ocean near Greenland and in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. The mechanism is the same in both regions. In cold polar conditions, large amounts of water freeze. Salt in water does not combine with ice. The remaining liquid remains in the water, which becomes saltier. The saltier the water, the denser it becomes. Therefore, the waste is heavier than the surrounding water and eventually sinks to the ocean floor.

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About 250 trillion tons of salty water sinks around Antarctica in this way each year, then spreads northward along the ocean floor into the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans. A similar amount is widespread in southern Greenland. This process is known as deep-water formation, or ocean upwelling, and has remained unchanged for thousands of years.

But for how long? As the world warms, sea ice at the Earth’s ends is shrinking every year. Meanwhile, more ice is melting in the large ice sheets near Antarctica and Greenland, releasing fresh water into the ocean.

As a result, surface waters in the Southern Ocean and around Greenland are now salty, less dense, and unable to sink. Since the 1990s, ship measurements have shown the strongest trend in the Southern Ocean, where waters below 13,000 feet deep have warmed and cooled.

Climate scientists have warned for years that a recovery in the North Atlantic could one day shut down the Earth’s circulation system. Such a closure would have far-reaching consequences, including isolating Europe from the warming effects of the Atlantic Gulf Stream, part of the global circulation, and freezing the western part of the continent into a deep freeze as the rest of the world warms. . Most studies have concluded that this extreme situation is likely a result of global warming, but it is unlikely in this century.

Slowing Ocean Current Caused By Melting Antarctic Ice Could Have Drastic Climate Impact, Study Says

However, little research has been done on the state of Antarctic waters. Many oceanographers, including Alessandro Silvano of the University of Southampton in the UK, have predicted that melting ice and rising seawater would reduce the composition of water at the bottom of Antarctica. The latest assessment by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests there is “moderate confidence” by the end of this century. But modellers say it’s impossible to predict how quickly or how long this trend will continue with the effects of glacial meltwater. The failure, which stems from a misunderstanding of ice dynamics and a failure to incorporate them into models of climate change and ocean circulation, is a “major long-standing flaw” in the models identified in a major IPCC report, Rahmstorf said.

An updated modeling study, published by Australian and US researchers in late March, included for the first time a detailed assessment of the potential impact of melting ice, highlighting the importance of previous failures. It is predicted that by 2050, groundwater levels in the Southern Ocean will fall by 42 percent. That’s more than double the 19 percent they expected for a similar event in the North Atlantic.

Their model predicts the situation will get worse after 2050. Aquifers “are set to collapse this century,” said study coordinator Matthew England of the University of New South Wales.

How Does Ocean Currents Affect Climate Change

. “Once it collapses, it will likely remain collapsed until Antarctica stops melting. In the current imagination, that could be hundreds of years from now.

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“The physics in the game are very simple,” English said. “None of the steps are surprising or particularly complex. But until our study, we had no trading pattern that we could confidently predict.” This slowness in itself did not surprise me. But the rate of change – a 40% slowdown in three decades – has been truly astonishing.

“This is the first time I’ve seen such a valid argument about the impact of melting Antarctic ice on the Southern Ocean,” Shepherd said. “They convinced me that the current rate of melting is high enough to affect ocean circulation.”

Antarctica is the largest ice reservoir in the world. So, “we should expect the effects of this merger to be far-reaching,” Shepherd says. The article’s authors agree. “Slowing ocean circulation will redirect heat, fresh water, oxygen, carbon and nutrients to the oceans, with impacts across the world’s oceans for centuries,” concluded lead author Qian Li, an oceanographer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. technology.

Marine ecologists pay particular attention to the effects of gyre closure on nutrient cycling in the ocean. Currently, when dead marine life sinks to the ocean floor, nutrients fall to the depths of the ocean, but are brought back to the surface by conveyor belts.

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If there is no new deep water in the deep ocean, there will be nothing to bring nutrients back to the surface. Instead, nutrients in deep-sea waters will accumulate and stagnate, while the supply of nutrients needed to support pelagic marine life will decrease dramatically, said Adele Morrison of the Australian National University, one of the paper’s co-authors. Marine ecosystems can collapse. It won’t happen right away. It took hundreds of years, but it did not prevent the train from reaching it even once.

The closures will also accelerate global warming, Rahmstorf said. “The craters are conduits that pour carbon dioxide into the oceanic abyss, where it is locked safely away from the atmosphere for centuries [and] helps slow global warming. However, this mechanism is set to weaken.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the oceans account for a quarter of the carbon dioxide we emit, most of which travels through groundwater formations.

Disruption of deep-water formations in the Southern Ocean would alter global climate patterns in ways that are currently difficult to predict. This could change the tropical rain regime, perhaps making the entire Southern Hemisphere drier and the Northern Hemisphere wetter.

How Does Ocean Currents Affect Climate Change

Moment. But in the meantime, some scientists are concerned about the risks of the first scenario: a catastrophe in the North Atlantic. A Swiss study published in early April analyzed climate data for marine sediments and assessed the vulnerability of marine sediments.

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