What Would Happen If The Gulf Stream Stopped

What Would Happen If The Gulf Stream Stopped – According to recent data and new studies, the Gulf Stream has weakened significantly over the past few decades. The climate in the United States and Europe is highly dependent on these ocean currents, so it is important to understand the changes that are occurring and what they mean for our climate now and in the near future.

There is a growing realization that the Gulf Stream and the Atlantic circulation as a whole are approaching a critical tipping point. As you can see, there is an increased flow of fresh water as the sea ice melts, which can be attributed to this change.

What Would Happen If The Gulf Stream Stopped

What Would Happen If The Gulf Stream Stopped

We’ll look at the latest data on the Gulf Stream, where and how it flows, how it’s changing our climate, and why it’s actually collapsed so strongly over the past few decades. And we’ll show you what the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” actually did when it brought down the Gulf Stream.

How Does The Gulf Stream Impact The British Climate?

First, what exactly is the Gulf Stream, where can we find it, and what’s the big deal?

The Gulf Stream is a strong ocean current that carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico into the North Atlantic Ocean. It stretches along the east coast of the United States, where it begins to diverge toward northern Europe.

The image below shows a rough plan of the Gulf Stream and where it flows across the North Atlantic. It doesn’t really flow in a nice straight line, but as you will see, it is very complex and full of motion and dynamics.

This strong flow of warm water directly affects Florida’s climate. Compared to other southeastern states, it keeps temperatures in Florida warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

What Happens If The Earth Stopped Spinning?

As the Gulf Stream also extends into Europe, it helps warm Western European countries, which has a major impact on the regional climate.

If we look at the sea temperature and the speed of the surface current, the current itself looks good.

In the image below you can see the latest sea surface temperature. See the current of warm water extending from the East Coast of the United States into the North Atlantic.

What Would Happen If The Gulf Stream Stopped

The best is the Gulf Stream, which transports important warm water northward. Instead, you can see the cool Labrador Current on the east coast of Canada.

The Gulf Stream Is Slowing To A ‘tipping Point’ And Could Disappear

The Gulf Stream can be seen better if we look at the movement and speed of ocean surface currents. In the image below you can see the speed of ocean surface currents, where the Gulf Stream stands out, and it can be seen in its rawest shape and form.

These ocean currents do not flow in a straight line, as seen in many graphics. It is actually quite complex, with many dynamics and moving across the North Atlantic. It has many small whirlpools, warm and cold. It is similar to the atmospheric jet stream.

Looking around the world, we can see that the Gulf Stream is not the only one of its kind. There are many areas of constant ocean circulation. The most significant is probably the Japan Current (Kuroshio), which is similar in its activity to the Gulf Stream.

We’ve created a high-resolution video animation that shows the Gulf Stream in motion. It will show well how it flows towards the North Atlantic. The video shows the 2020/2021 wiener period, as it is best seen in winter when the Gulf Stream has the greatest temperature contrast.

A Major Atlantic Current Is At A Critical Transition Point

The larger circulation system that includes the Gulf Stream is called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). The AMOC is a large system of ocean currents in the Atlantic Ocean, driven by variations in temperature and salinity, which affect its density. The Gulf Stream is the surface component of the AMOC in the North Atlantic.

The image below from the UK Met Office shows approximately the entire global ocean circulation. It has many different names, but most commonly it is called the Global Conveyor Belt or Thermohaline Circulation. The AMOC is the Atlantic side of this global circulation.

As the Gulf Stream transports warm water northward, it gradually cools, releasing most of the heat. Evaporation also occurs along the way, which increases the salinity of the ocean.

What Would Happen If The Gulf Stream Stopped

Lower temperatures and higher salt content make water denser and heavier. This means it will sink deeper into the ocean. Submerged water causes movement and momentum, pulling more water from the surface and creating a steady current.

If The Earth Stood Still

The image below shows sea surface salinity, or the amount of salt in water. The higher the number, the saltier the water. Above 35, we still have salt water, so when the water cools, it becomes denser (heavier) and begins to sink.

Cold, dense water flows slowly southward, several kilometers below sea level. Finally, it is pulled back to the surface and heated in a process called “upwelling,” completing the full circle of circulation.

The reason why this is important is because the AMOC is part of the Northern Hemisphere weather and climate. It carries more warm water and energy to the northern regions. The image below outlines the North Atlantic sector of the AMOC.

If we look deep below the surface, about 380 meters (1240 feet), the Gulf Stream still looks beautiful. But you can also see the cold water south of Greenland, where ocean currents sink as they thicken.

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Descending further, about 1200 meters (4000 feet) we reached the bottom of the Gulf Stream. We rarely see the warm current standing out, because we have warmer ocean temperatures to the east, around the European continental shelf.

We’ve created a special graphic below, which shows why the Gulf Stream, and the AMOC in general, are so important. The image shows the average January surface temperature over the past 42 years. For example, you can see the huge temperature difference between the North Atlantic and Canada.

Looking at the same line of latitude, for example, 60 degrees north at the tip of Greenland. You can see that there is almost a 30 degree Celsius difference in temperature between the North Atlantic and South Canada.

What Would Happen If The Gulf Stream Stopped

For example the difference in winter weather between the United Kingdom and southern Canada is huge. This is mainly due to the warm Gulf Stream. It carries warm water northward, maintaining Europe’s mild climate.

Climate Change Is Slowing Atlantic Currents That Help Keep Europe Warm

Since many of our readers are more familiar with the Fahrenheit temperature scale, we created a similar graphic, but in degrees Fahrenheit. For example, you can see a 50-60 degree difference between the far North Atlantic and southern Canada.

You can also see warm weather along the East Coast of the United States. It is also partly influenced by warm ocean currents. But as we’ll see later in the article, the Gulf Stream can also have a negative effect on the weather in the United States.

But first, focusing on the far North Atlantic AMOC, we can see that it is quite complicated. The warm water is being carried across the British Isles and Iceland, reaching deep into the Arctic Ocean.

If you look at the actual sea temperatures a month ago, you will see positive temperatures of 6-10 degrees Celsius (43-50 degrees F) reaching the Arctic Circle. Purple color indicates sea ice or very cold, almost frozen water.

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This active water transport system is one of the main reasons why the Arctic Circle region is particularly ice-free.

How ice-free the region connecting the North Atlantic is can be better seen in the sea ice concentration analysis below. This is because the ocean temperatures are warm enough to allow freezing. Active ocean currents continuously deliver relatively warm water, preventing thick sea ice from forming.

There is a theory that the Gulf Stream could shut down at some point, making the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” a reality. In the famous film, the circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean was completely shut down, pushing the world into a new ice age.

What Would Happen If The Gulf Stream Stopped

The film is not completely scientifically accurate, as this world change did not happen in just three days. Although the reality is quite different from the movie, we will see the state of the Gulf Stream, which shows that this ocean current is indeed weakening.

Ocean Current That Keeps Europe Warm Is Weakening

Getting straight to the point, we have a graphic below, which shows the strength of the AMOC over the past centuries. Of course, these are reconstructions based on “proxy data,” such as coral data, ocean sediments, and land-based data.

The most important thing is that we can see a severe weakening of the AMOC over at least the last 200 years. This proxy data agrees with modern instrument observations. This gives good confidence for historical reconstruction.

Often, sea temperature is used to determine the state/strength of the ocean

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