In the Atlantic Ocean, subtle shifts hint at dramatic dangers
Our oceans mean life on this planet. Oceans regulate our planet’s temperature and provide oxygen and food. However, we must not take it for granted. A warming atmosphere is causing an arm of the powerful Gulf Stream to weaken. Is this bad? Well, the Gulf Stream has shaped climate and history on four continents. Currents swing west from Africa, ultimately influencing weather patterns from Caracas to Miami to Europe. Warmer water sweeps past continents, slowly turning into cooler water farther north. The Gulf Stream propels the heat of the Caribbean past Cape Hatteras, N.C., before bending toward the British Isles. But now, in the North Atlantic, a “cold blob” from melting Greenland ice could tip the delicate conveyor belt balancing heat transfer which is changing ocean currents. Peter de Menocal, a paleoceanographer and president and director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said, “…if this happens, it’s just a monstrous change.” Read more to learn the complexities and importance of consistent ocean currents.
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