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FourScore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 10:46 AM
Original message
Freak Current Takes Gulf Stream to Greenland
Freak Current Takes Gulf Stream to Greenland
by FishOutofWater
Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 07:24:02 PM PST

An unprecedented extreme in the northern hemisphere atmospheric circulation has driven a strong direct connecting current between the Gulf Stream and the West Greenland current. The unprecedented negativity of the "Arctic Oscillation" and the strong connection of the Gulf Stream with the Greenland current are exceptional events. More exceptional weather events are predicted with anthropogenic climate change, but this could be a natural variation of weather and currents.



The West Greenland current transports water originating from the Nordic seas that wrap around the southern tip of Greenland.

The West Greenland Current (WGC) flows north along the shelf and shelf break of the west coast of Greenland. It transports about 3 Sv of fresh (salinity < 34.5), cold (-1.8C) water from the Nordic seas (Clarke 1984; Cuny et al. 2002).




The West Greenland current normally does not connect directly with the Gulf Stream, but the most negative "Arctic oscillation" in 50 years of measurement caused a strong wind field that temporarily drove the Gulf Stream toward the west Greenland current...

SNIP



The unprecedented atmospheric circulation pattern brought exceptionally warm air to Greenland and the Arctic ocean while dumping cold Arctic air into the United States, Europe and central Siberia.



The warm air over the Arctic ocean and Greenland slowed the formation of sea ice. Sea ice in the Labrador Sea decreased in late December with the strong current that brought warm water up the west coast of Greenland.



The past gives clues to what might be happening in the North Atlantic...

SNIP

...The need for urgent action to rapidly cut emissions of CO2, other greenhouse gases, and black carbon soot is becoming more evident by the day.

MUCH MORE WITH LINKS:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/1/6/822520/-Freak-Current-Takes-Gulf-Stream-to-Greenland
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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 10:55 AM
Response to Original message
1. Thanks for posting
I wonder how this will affect the North Water Polynya?

Shoaling of the West Greenland Current near the Kane Basin is one of the events that leads to the formation of the polynya in the spring.

The North Water is an essential habitat for local Inuits and many marine organisms including the highly endangered eastern bowhead whale - and it's the nesting site of millions of dovekies and murres.

The timing of the opening of the polynya is crucial to many of these organisms.

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FirstLight Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 10:56 AM
Response to Original message
2. Wow- thanks so much for sharing this
Fascinating and scary at the same time.


So...can you refresh my memory.? the theory is that the sea ice wil desalinate the water and also mess with the natural currents...which could make movement like the gulf stream disappear, right? With that, what is the outcome? (my coffee hasn't kicked in yet, forgive me! lol)


I also read that the MAGNETIC pole is moving east at about 40 miles a year or somethiung crazy like that. Could these shifts all be interrelated or play upon eactother in one way or another?

one thing is for sure, we are on a Living, Breathing PLanet - and it is going to change because of us, and in spite of us...
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dixiegrrrrl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 11:10 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. One predicted outcome is that krill will disappaer.
Bad news for whales.

Another predicted outcome is how the sea currents affect the jet stream.
Monsoons dry up, parts of the planet become deserts.

What is outrageous is these "outcomes" are not sudden discoveries, they have been put out there for over the last 15 years.
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tabatha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 11:45 AM
Response to Reply #2
11. Here is some stuff I found, and keep on posting:
"According to Paul R. Epstein, at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. Global Warming is what's making it colder in the winter in the US: Normally, water circulates in the North Atlantic like this: Cold, salty water at the top sinks; that sinking water acts as a pump, pulling warm Gulf Stream water north and thus moderating winter weather. But now, fresh water from the thawing ice and heavier rain is accumulating near the ocean's surface; it's not sinking as quickly. (The tropics are faced with the opposite phenomenon.)

According to Dr. Ruth Curry and her colleagues at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the tropical Atlantic is becoming saltier; as warming increases, so does evaporation, which leaves behind salt.) The "freshening" in the North Atlantic may be contributing to a high-pressure system that is accelerating trans-Atlantic winds and deflecting the jet stream changes that may be driving frigid fronts down the Eastern Seaboard. The ice-core records demonstrate that the North Atlantic can freshen to a point where the deep-water pump fails, warm water stops coming north, and the northern ocean suddenly freezes, as it did in the last Ice Age.

No one can say if that is what will happen next. But since the 1950's, the best documented deep-water pump, between Iceland and Scotland, has slowed 20 percent."


b) Global warming may lead to colder winters in Britain

Greenland's melting glaciers have the power to change Britain's climate because of the way they can interfere with the Gulf Stream of the North Atlantic, which keeps winters relatively mild.

Scientists have found the first hard evidence to show that this actually happened 8,200 years ago, when the climate in parts of the northern hemisphere cooled dramatically after a period of global warming. Paradoxically, a warmer world could lead to harsher winters in Britain because of the way that melting freshwater from the Greenland ice cap can interfere with the saltwater engine that drives the Gulf Stream. The scientists found that 8,200 years ago the North Atlantic current slowed down at a time when a freshwater lake, which had formed from the melting glaciers of the last Ice Age, flooded into the sea. They believe that the lake released so much freshwater it diluted the surface water of the sea and so slowed down the warm North Atlantic currents, which are generated by the sinking of cold, salty water.

"The 8,200-year-old event is the most recent abrupt climate-change event and by far the most extreme cooling episode in the past 10,000 years," Mark Chapman, a palaeoclimatologist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, said. The study, published in the journal Science, involved drilling for a core of seabed sediments from the south of Iceland and analysing it for indications of both the speed of the ocean currents and the saltiness of the sea. "Our records show a sequenced pattern of freshening and cooling of the North Atlantic sea surface and a change in the deep ocean circulation, all key factors... in controlling... northern hemisphere climate," Dr Chapman said.

The core contained sediments representing the current "interglacial" warm period that began at the end of the last Ice Age about 10,000 years ago, Christopher Ellison of the University of East Anglia said. "The sediment includes... small animals called foraminifera that record surface water conditions in their shells when living," Mr Ellison said. "We also analysed the sediment grain size to gauge the speed of ocean currents and the strength of ocean circulation."

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fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 12:23 PM
Response to Reply #2
15. One Prediction is an Ice Age
if that warm water doesn't flow north anymore, it will have drastic effect on our climate.
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dhpgetsit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 10:57 AM
Response to Original message
3. People who used to enjoy the comfortable temps in SW British Isles
Can now move to Greenland?
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truebrit71 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. That was my first thought..would this explain, at least partially, the severe cold snap...
..currently occuring in the UK?
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denbot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 11:39 AM
Response to Reply #6
9. I do believe the gulf stream moderates western european temps
So how are the climate deniers going to spin this?
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tabatha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 11:47 AM
Response to Reply #9
13. Ye, I had one climate denier just send me the reports of cold weather
So, I sent him the contents of #11.
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TheBigotBasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 11:43 AM
Response to Reply #6
10. Pretty much
because the Gulf stream is being blocked, Britain is being hit by the much colder Siberian winds.

And yep it is much colder.
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tabatha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 11:46 AM
Response to Reply #6
12. See #11
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defendandprotect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 11:03 AM
Response to Original message
4. "Song for a Blue Ocean" by Carl Safina
I think all libraries have this book --

but, meanwhile, what horrific damage has already been done to Nature upon which

our survival is dependent.

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ensho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 11:22 AM
Response to Original message
7. this news makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up

thanks for posting
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arcadian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 11:24 AM
Response to Original message
8. The Gulf Stream usually ends in the UK
It's how some people can have semi-tropical plants in Cornwall.
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tavalon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 12:20 PM
Response to Original message
14. Pretty pictures seem to say:
We're fucked.
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Bigmack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-07-10 12:51 PM
Response to Original message
16. Many Thanks for this VERY INFORMATIVE POST
As usual, leave it to the DU'ers to have some of the BEST informed postings around! I've been wondering about the connections between global climate change and this very cold winter in Europe and the eastern US, and wondering about how changes in the thermohaline current might be connected to "all this." I realize, that as usual, we're not at the "bottom line" of understanding all this yet, but you'd think that a so-called "informed species" like homo sapiens would "choose" to err on the side of caution.....or not.... Ms Bigmack
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