The Atlantic Conveyor, a life-giving ocean current that keeps northern Europe warm, is slowing down, scientists said on Wednesday.
If the 30 percent slowdown seen over the past 12 years is not just a blip, temperatures in northern Europe could drop significantly, despite global warming, they added.
Scientists have long forecast that the Atlantic Conveyor that carries warm surface water north and cold deep water back to the equator could break down because of global warming.
According to the theory, rising air temperatures cause ice caps to melt, making the water less salty and therefore less dense so it can't sink and flow back south.
The scientists on Wednesday said this was the first time that observations had put flesh on the bones of the theory.
"This is the first time we have observed a change in the current on a human timescale," oceanographer Harry Bryden said, noting that it had completely shut down during the ice ages.
But he said the latest figures were far from proving a trend and that constant and long-term monitoring was needed.
"It is like a radiator heating the atmosphere and is too important to leave to periodic observations," Bryden told a news conference to flesh out a paper he co-authored in Nature science journal....
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Did any of you see the report commissioned by the Pentagon (.pdf available at this link) last year on worst-case scenarios for global warming? Here's some new information: