Ocean Current May Cause Severe European Heat

Ireland may be in for increasingly warmer temperatures over the next two decades, resulting from changing ocean currents, including those from the Gulf Stream.

The Gulf Stream is an ocean current that streams from the Mexican Gulf, along the US shoreline, passing Canada, and then making its way through the Atlantic to the European waters of Ireland, Britain, the UK, and Scotland. It is one of several currents that flow throughout the earth’s waterways. The currents change climate by modifying temperatures and depositing nutrients in oceanic atmospheres.

A team of scientist from Maynooth University in Ireland predict that sudden climate changes could have long-reaching effects on the global climate. Like a natural conveyor belt, small climate changes make big impacts on the environment, as warm currents circulate, affecting global coastlines and sea waters.

Historically, the Gulf Stream protects Ireland from sudden climate changes, because as its warm, top currents flow north, cooler, deeper waters are flowing south, creating a circulation effect that is responsible for Ireland’s mild temperatures. However, scientists warn that the circulation system in the Atlantic is weakening. The weakening circulation system is causing an interruption in the cooling influence of the ocean currents.

The past few years have been the warmest in recorded history, with blistering heat and extended droughts in unexpected areas. The scientists from Maynooth assert that more research is needed to examine increasing green-house gas emissions, linked to global warming, and to analyze historical climate data to have a full understanding of the principal causes that trigger sudden climate events.

Ocean water, heated at the equator, makes its way through the natural circulation system, eventually cooling, and returning to its source to begin the cycle again. Some fear that as warmer weather melts the ice caps, melted fresh water will affect the sea’s ability to redistribute heat through its natural circulation systems.