Sunday, May 08, 2005

It's happening!

Long predicted as a possible effect of global warming, the slowing of the Gulf Stream which warms northern Europe has begun. The mechanism that warms Great Britain and Scandanavia--which are at the same latitude as Hudson Bay--is fairly straightforward: Cold water in the northern Atlantic sinks and draws in warm water from the tropics to replace it. Now, that mechanism is failing, and the cause is the melting of ice sheets off Greenland which are necessary to keep it going.

Not long ago the Pentagon studied the possible effects of the Gulf Stream coming to a stop. Although that hasn't happened yet, the first signs are in place, and the prospects for reversing the global warming trend that could lead to it over the next several decades are virtually nil.

(Via Flying Talking Donkey.)

(Comments are open to all. See the list of environmental blogs on my sidebar.)


monkeygrinder said...

The way things are looking now, a lot of bad news is going to converge in the next 5 years.

the thermohaine cycle is not understood well enough for scientists to say whether it will halt in twenty years or tomorrow.

But it is safe to say we'll be burning loads of carbon for the next twenty years.

Kurt Cobb said...

Unfortunately, monkeygrinder is right. The Gulf Stream could stop tomorrow. In fact, the geologic record shows just such sudden shifts in the past over periods as short as 10 years.