Great ocean conveyor belt and climate change

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great ocean conveyor belt and climate change

The Great Ocean Conveyor: Discovering the Trigger for Abrupt Climate Change by Wallace S. Broecker

Wally Broecker is one of the worlds leading authorities on abrupt global climate change. More than two decades ago, he discovered the link between ocean circulation and climate change, in particular how shutdowns of the Great Ocean Conveyor--the vast network of currents that circulate water, heat, and nutrients around the globe--triggered past ice ages. Today, he is among the researchers exploring how our planets climate system can abruptly flip-flop from one state to another, and who are weighing the implications for the future. In The Great Ocean Conveyor, Broecker introduces readers to the science of abrupt climate change while providing a vivid, firsthand account of the fields history and development.


Could global warming cause the conveyor to shut down again, prompting another flip-flop in climate? What were the repercussions of past climate shifts? How do we know such shifts occurred? Broecker shows how Earth scientists study ancient ice cores and marine sediments to probe Earths distant past, and how they blend scientific detective work with the latest technological advances to try to predict the future. He traces how the science has evolved over the years, from the blind alleys and wrong turns to the controversies and breathtaking discoveries. Broecker describes the men and women behind the science, and reveals how his own thinking about abrupt climate change has itself flip-flopped as new evidence has emerged.


Rich with personal stories and insights, The Great Ocean Conveyor opens a tantalizing window onto how Earth science is practiced.
File Name: great ocean conveyor belt and climate change.zip
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Published 25.01.2019

The great ocean conveyor

The global conveyor belt is a strong, but easily disrupted process. Research suggests that the conveyor belt may be affected by climate change. If global.
Wallace S. Broecker

Global Conveyer Belt: Ocean Current Slowing

The two studies differ on when and how they think the weakening was triggered. While one suggests it began in the midth century as a response to human-caused climate change, the second proposes that it began a hundred years earlier following a natural shift in regional climate. The Atlantic Ocean plays host to a perpetual conveyor belt that transports heat from the equator up to the North Atlantic. The graphic below shows the two main features of the AMOC: the first is the flow of warm, salty water in the upper layers of the ocean northwards from the Gulf of Mexico red line. The second is the cooling and freshening of water in the high latitudes of the Atlantic, which then sinks and returns southwards towards the equator at much deeper depths blue line. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Source: Praetorius

Melting ice flows into the northern Atlantic Ocean in eastern Greenland. Susan Lozier is having a busy year. From May to September, her oceanographic team is making five research cruises across the North Atlantic, hauling up dozens of moored instruments that track currents far beneath the surface. The data they retrieve will be the first complete set documenting how North Atlantic waters are shifting — and should help solve the mystery of whether there is a long-term slowdown in ocean circulation. Since those moorings were installed in , they have seen the Atlantic current wobble and weaken by as much as 30 percent, turning down the dial on a dramatic heat pump that transports warmth toward northern Europe. Turn that dial down too much and Europe will go into a deep chill.

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It then sends cold, more dense water back again in the deep ocean on a constant conveyor belt. Without it, for example, UK winters would be around 5C colder. This could lead to considerable changes in climate and rainfall patterns throughout the northern hemisphere. This suggests that a weakening AMOC in modern times could see northern hemisphere temperatures fall. But, the new study notes, such past changes happened before humans started pumping billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. These proxies include measurements of ocean temperature and salinity, as well as observations of sea surface height from satellites and tide gauges.

There are already signs that the weakening of the Atlantic circulation is having an effect on U. Ice melting off Greenland as the Arctic warms is believed to play a key role. Credit: NASA. Sign up to receive our latest reporting on climate change, energy and environmental justice, sent directly to your inbox. Subscribe here. Scientists have found new evidence that the Atlantic Ocean's circulation has slowed by about 15 percent since the middle of the last century.

Wally Broecker is one of the world's leading authorities on abrupt global climate change. More than two decades ago, he discovered the link between ocean circulation and climate change, in particular how shutdowns of the Great Ocean Conveyor--the vast network of currents that circulate water, heat, and nutrients around the globe--triggered past ice ages. Today, he is among the researchers exploring how our planet's climate system can abruptly "flip-flop" from one state to another, and who are weighing the implications for the future. In The Great Ocean Conveyor , Broecker introduces readers to the science of abrupt climate change while providing a vivid, firsthand account of the field's history and development. Could global warming cause the conveyor to shut down again, prompting another flip-flop in climate? What were the repercussions of past climate shifts?

2 COMMENTS

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  2. Clinenelpres says:

    The global ocean conveyor belt is slowing down, impacting climate, sea and salinity drives even greater amounts of water around the world.

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