Atlantic to Pacific feedback discovered

February 22, 2007

French scientists say an exchange of water vapor from the Atlantic to the Pacific might be an important feedback mechanism for abrupt climatic changes.

Researchers say the global ocean circulation during the past 90,000 years has varied between warm and cold periods, some lasting thousands of years.

Now scientists have discovered the atmospheric transport of water from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean across Central America leads to relatively high levels of salinity in the North Atlantic Ocean, contributing to the formation of North Atlantic Deep Water -- an important link within the global ocean circulation.

Guillaume Leduc and colleagues at the National Center for Scientific Research, a French government-funded research organization, used a marine sediment core to reconstruct sea surface salt levels in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, and detected strong fluctuations associated with the migration of the tropical Atlantic Intertropical Convergence Zone.

The researchers found during warmer phases, moisture export from the Atlantic increased, which reinforced the salt buildup in North Atlantic surface waters. The reverse situation occurred during cooler periods, with decreased fresh water flux across Panama.

The project is described in the journal Nature.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Growing Antarctic ice sheet caused ancient Mediterranean to dry up

Related Stories

Lionfish study explores idea of eating an ecological problem

November 10, 2015

The lionfish is a ferocious ocean carnivore with a flamboyant "mane" of venomous spines. This exotic maroon-and-white creature, native to the Indo-Pacific, made its way west through the aquarium trade. During recent years, ...

NASA finds new way to track ocean currents from space

November 3, 2015

A team of NASA and university scientists has developed a new way to use satellite measurements to track changes in Atlantic Ocean currents, which are a driving force in global climate. The finding opens a path to better monitoring ...

Recommended for you


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.