The temperature and other conditions of surrounding seas and oceans has dramatic conditions can have a dramatic on land. The effect of global warming on water currents is a factor to be considered in preparing for climate change.
Gulf stream map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Considering that it so far north, the United Kingdom, has a fairly mild climate. Countries on the same latitude include Canada and Russia, countries that have much colder winters and that can get much warmer summers. This mild climate is a result of the warmer sea waters that surround the islands of the United Kingdom.
The Gulf stream is an oceanic current of warm water that originates at the southern tip of Florida. This current then brings warm water to the east coast of the United States and to the east coast of Canada, and then to north-eastern Europe. The effect of the warmer waters distributed by the Gulf Stream is to give many places warmer winters than they would have if the current was to weaken or disappear.
There are many scientists who think that warmer waters in the Atlantic Ocean could reduce the effects of this very powerful ocean current. There is much evidence to suggest that this weakening would cause colder winters and more storms in coastal regions close to the northern Atlantic Ocean1. Climate Scientists closely monitor how warming seas could affect climates across the globe2.
This attention has led to the discovery of a current originating in Antarctica that could have a major impact on the global climate3. The scientists that made this discovery claim that this current could speed climate change – this current will be affected by climate change in the same dramatic way as the land mass around the South Pole. The effect of warming on currents such a this will be an important consideration in predicting climatic changes in the future.
1. Abel, Daniel C., and McConnell, Robert L., (2009). Climate Change and the North Atlantic Circulation, Environmental Oceanography: Topics and Analysis, Jones and Bartlet Publishers.
2. Wu, L., (2012). Enhanced warming over the global subtropical western boundary events, Nature Climate Change, doi: 10.1038/nclimate1353.
3. Lovett, R.A., (2010). An Oceanic ‘fast-lane’ for Climate Change, Nature, doi:10.1038/news.2010.201.