According to climatologists, Gulf Stream is slowing down and that is causing major changes to the ocean currents of the North Atlantic.
The scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Penn State University and other institutions, added that rising temperatures due to climate change is causing a lot of ice cap in Greenland to rapidly melt. This in turn is adding huge volumes of freshwater in North Atlantic. This has slowed down the ocean “engine” that drives the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean towards north-west Europe, bringing heat equivalent to the output of a million power stations.
The scientists believe that these changes could affect climates of regions from places like Britain to New York. It could also affect sea levels around these regions.
The fresh water, which has less density, resists the normal sinking motion at the northern edge of the Gulf Stream and slows it down with a ripple effect across all the globe’s oceans.
The scientists added that the phenomenon, which is known as ‘overturning circulation’ has slowed down and that will cause major impact on climate as the warm water moving north keeps Europe’s climate warm, while it balances out climate elsewhere by moving cold water back toward the tropics.
From the data that was gathered, the researchers estimated that the current circulation of the Gulf Stream has been reduced by about 15% to 20%, which is more than at any time in the last thousand years.
Jason Box, professor in glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, and one of the members of the study, said, “Now freshwater coming off the Greenland ice sheet is likely disturbing the circulation. So the human-caused mass loss of the Greenland ice sheet appears to be slowing down the Atlantic overturning, and this effect might increase if temperatures are allowed to rise further.”
The findings were published in the Nature Climate Change journal.