The world temperature map from NASA shows a large cold patch in the North Atlantic right in the path of the Gulf Stream and this comes at a time when the Gulf Stream is slowing. The Gulf Stream is a major driver in the world circulation of the thermohaline system which distributes heat and nutrients around the world.
When the system is working normally the warm water of the Gulf Stream steadily evaporates as it travels North and the water grows heavier as this action leaves the salt behind. When the stream reaches the Arctic this sea water freezes and again only the fresh water freezes and the remaining salt water becomes very heavy with excessive salt and sinks into the deep ocean driving the system.
What appears to be happening is that an excessive amount of water has been melting from Greenland and flooding across the North Atlantic, mixing with the salt water and making it less dense so that it will not sink so fast. This mechanism has been known to stop the Gulf Stream completely in the past and also was mentioned by Al Gore in his famous video ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. Although the theory has been known for some time, nobody really believed that it would happen in our lifetime.
Clearly this would have huge implications for the UK as it relies on the Gulf Stream to avoid the cold weather that it’s high northern latitude would normally dictate but the water has been 2C cooler this summer and it has been a poor summer. Let’s hope that things recover as a quick change in temperature can be disastrous for any country.
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