Slowing Currents

By Nate Davidovich

The Atlantic Ocean is currently moving in slow-motion. In the last 1,600 years, the circulation has never peaked so low, and the same can be said for the temperature. This statistic may not sound so daunting at its core, but it includes many factors that could make or break our environment as a whole.

According to Scientific American, with slowed circulation of the Atlantic Current, the risk of flooding and extreme weather, including the likes of tropical storms, grows severly high. While this may not seem like a “big-deal” to those not concerned with the state of the environment, scientists and analysts of the currents’ state alike note that the sea-level of coastal cities could rise to catastrophic points; in other words, the largest metropoleis in the nation could soon be completely under water.

In order for the ocean’s currents to function properly, there needs to be a proportional motion between the hot and cold currents below the surface of the water. However, in the Atlantic, the heat is currently, “moving northward throughout the whole Atlantic Ocean,” says David Thornalley, a paleo-oceanography at University College London.

This is indicative of the fact that far less heat is flowing north eastward toward Europe, which in turn leads to a cooler ocean temperature overall in the regions directly below Greenland and warmer temperatures off the coast of the United States. As a result, the weather patterns overall the world are subject to change. This also affects the state of the glaciers in the aforementioned northern regions.
“There are some indications the cold spot below Greenland can alter atmospheric patterns in a way that channels warm air over Europe,” says Levke Caesar, a Ph.D. student at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and co-author of the other new study published in Nature. “This increases the likelihood of sustained summer heat waves.”

Moving forward, RAPID instruments have been installed throughout the ocean. In essence, these are sensors that will help monitor the temperatures, patterns and motion of the currents. All in all, this will give researchers a sense of what are the true effects of the currents’ slowed-pace. However, the statistics will only be ready in the distant future; by then, the impact may already be severe.

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