New research questions a long-standing understanding of how Atlantic currents affect global temperatures.
The circulation system of the North Atlantic, which is responsible for the relatively mild climate of Ireland, may have weakened in the coming decades, fatal consequences.
A strong oceanic circulation has traditionally been associated with higher temperatures and lazy circulation with cooler temperatures, but recent research questions this viewpoint and assert that weakened circulation is an increase in already rising global temperatures could cause. [1
This research challenges the conventional understanding of how variations in a system of ocean currents called the Atlantic Meridional Circulation (AMOC) affect the rate of global surface warming.
The AMOC is a system of currents that extend across the Atlantic Ocean, which are generally characterized by a northward current of warm water and a southern river of colder, deeper waters.
On a global scale, AMOC was considered a strong force associated with elevated surface temperatures over the Atlantic Ocean, but this new research instead emphasizes the role of AMOC in dissipating heat to the surface and storage in the deep ocean
Global surface temperatures rose steadily from 1975 to 1998, but this growth slowed for 15 years – an event that attracted much attention as a hiatus. Since then we have experienced the four warmest years since recording; 2014-2017. The interest in this gap and what caused it has therefore decreased considerably.
Dr. McCarthy and Prof. Thorne argue that research could provide the key to explaining this gap and that understanding the mechanisms could help prepare us for future climate change.