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Fascinating discovery from Wood Hole researchers (climate change)

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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 11:52 AM
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Fascinating discovery from Wood Hole researchers (climate change)
That I only partially understand. (I have some basic understanding of the science, but not an in-depth understanding.)

What do you make of this surprising finding?

Surprising Return of North Atlantic Circulation Pump
Sea Ice Decline May Actually Have Aided Ocean Overturning

One of the pumps contributing to the oceans global circulation suddenly switched on again last winter for the first time this decade, scientists reported Tuesday (Dec. 23) in Nature Geoscience. The finding surprised scientists, who had been wondering if global warming was inhibiting the pumpwhich, in turn, would cause other far-reaching climate changes.

The pump in question is the sinking of cold, dense water in the North Atlantic Ocean in the winter. It drives water down into the lower limb of what is often described as the Great Ocean Conveyor. To replace that down-flowing water, warm surface waters from the tropics are pulled northward along the Conveyors upper limb.

The phenomenon helps draw down the man-made buildup of carbon dioxide from air to surface waters and eventually into the depths, where the greenhouse gas can be stored for centuries and offset global warming. It also transports warm tropical waters northward, where the ocean transfers heat to the air and keeps winter climate in the North Atlantic region much warmer than it would be otherwise.

A research team led by Kjetil Vge and Robert Pickart of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution examined new data collected by robotic floats that have been drifting for several years in the Labrador and Irminger Seas around southern Greenland. These Argo floatspart of a fleet of 3,000 dispatched since 2000 through the worlds oceansdescend to depths of 1.25 miles (2,000 meters), collect temperature and salinity data as they periodically rise toward the surface, and then transmit the data via satellite before descending again.
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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:10 PM
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1. Interestingly, the movie The Day After Tomorrow describes exactly that.
Obviously, one of the biggest flow of the movie was that it made the climate change happens in a couple weeks, rather than years, but if you saw the movie, this is exactly what it describes.

It bothers me that so many people use the word "global warming" rather than "global climate change", because it makes people think the problem is fixed each time there is a cool summer or a cold winter as we have this year.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:38 PM
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2. Interesting
This shows how hard it has to be to predict what climate changes will be. It seems that this will bring warmer milder water that should make winters milder. I wonder if that will mean the Artic water will start spring/summer warmer - thus leading to more melting of the ice caps.
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