Oceanographer refutes claims that climate change is slowing pace of Gulf Stream

Mar 05, 2014 by Todd Mcleish

Several recent studies have generated a great deal of publicity for their claims that the warming climate is slowing the pace of the Gulf Stream. They say that the Gulf Stream is decreasing in strength as a result of rising sea levels along the East Coast. However, none of the studies include any direct measurements of the current over an extended period to prove their point.

But this is exactly what has been underway at the University of Rhode Island and Stony Brook University for the last 20 years: measurement of the strength of the Gulf Stream. And according to a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers find no evidence that the Gulf Stream is slowing down. These new results reinforce earlier findings about the stability of Gulf Stream transport based on observations from as far back as the 1930s.

H. Thomas Rossby, a professor at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, has spent much of his long career studying ocean circulation – especially the Gulf Stream – and how it makes its way across the Atlantic towards Europe and as far north as northern Norway. For the last 20 years he and his colleagues have measured the Gulf Stream using an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) attached to a ship, the freighter Oleander, which makes weekly trips across the Gulf Stream from New Jersey to Bermuda. The instrument, which measures the velocity of water moving beneath the ship down to more than 600 meters, has collected some 1,000 measurements of the Gulf Stream since it was installed in late 1992.

"The ADCP measures currents at very high accuracy, and so through the repeat measurements we take year after year, we have a very powerful tool by which to monitor the strength of the current," said Rossby. "There are variations of the current over time that are natural—and yes, we need to understand these better—but we find absolutely no evidence that suggests that the Gulf Stream is slowing down."

The rapidly flowing Gulf Stream plays a major role in the global heat balance through its transport of very from the Caribbean toward Europe.

For this reason alone, Rossby says, there is good reason to be concerned about the long-term stability of the Gulf Stream, since if the Gulf Stream were slowing, a decrease in the flow of warm water to the northern North Atlantic could cause significant cooling in parts of Europe. But the data tell him that there is no evidence that this is happening, contrary to recent claims in the literature.

Although he officially retired in 2011, Rossby is continuing his Gulf Stream research and hopes to install a new instrument on the Oleander in the coming years that will be able to profile currents to even greater depths.

"Once we do that, all of the water going north will be well within our reach," he said.

Explore further: Atlantic current decline could be good news for the British summer

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mememine69
1.9 / 5 (9) Mar 05, 2014
What news editors never tell you. Climate blame was a 32 year old scientific consensus of nothing ever beyond just "could be" and prove us deniers wrong by finding us one IPCC warning that says;"inevitable" or "will be" a "threat to the planet" or unstoppable warming or a climate crisis................... Science can say smoking WILL cause cancer, comet hits are "inevitable" and evolution is "proven" but they can't say with certainty that the planet is in danger from SUV gas or not? After three decades of researching mostly effects not causes? What century is this?

So don't tell kids that science "believes" as much as you do.

vlaaing peerd
5 / 5 (7) Mar 05, 2014
What century is this?


it's the age of stupid, where people like you and me are entitled to blatantly scream out our ill-formed opinions about experts that really know stuff better than we do.
gregor1
1.5 / 5 (8) Mar 05, 2014
That's why we need a consensus mememine. There's little real World evidence so the IPCC meets to form a consensus of opinion. Not very scientific but it's the best they can do.
Vietvet
4.4 / 5 (7) Mar 05, 2014
@mememine
Don't you ever get tired of repeating yourself over and over again. All you are doing is displaying your ignorance.
Rimino
Mar 06, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Maggnus
4.4 / 5 (7) Mar 06, 2014
It plays well with the hypothesis of aqua/geothermal origin of global warming (fusion or decay of some elements in soil and marine water, catalyzed with neutrinos and dark matter particles).
No it doesn't! Show by any means available to you that neutrinos or dark matter can catalyze fusion or promote decay in any element! You keep making this claim Zephyr but you have never answered that question! Show any evidence this can happen! Anything! Or stop repeating it.

And don't link to 35 articles, none of which show evidence of this keystone premise of your speculation! Without this, it cannot work! (Well, I doubt it can work regardless, but I digress). So show anything, any one single thing, that supports your premise that neutrinos or dark matter can initiate fusion or cause elements to decay!
Howhot
4.3 / 5 (6) Mar 08, 2014
It isn't just temperatures that effect the Gulf stream, it's the salinity (SALT concentration) of the ocean that effects it's path, and with the MASSIVE and undeniable Arctic melt off, the fresh water flow will have a large impact on the Gulf stream. A lot of the extreme weather events in Europe are being attributed to dilution of Gulf currents with freshwater from the global warming melt off of the poles.
I would not expect to see the Gulf stream slowing, saltwater is denser and moves to the bottom, while freshwater is lighter and moves to the surface. One would then expect the Gulf stream to move faster than normal after mixing with the Arctic melt water (at least for the surface currents).
You might also expect the Gulf the split into an upper (fresh water) and lower (saltwater) stream when it bends around the eastern edge of the Atlantic.
orti
1 / 5 (2) Mar 09, 2014
Rimino, I don't think geothermal (89mW/m2 )is going to affect things very much. Average radiant loss from the earth is 240W/m2 with a neutral feedback sensitivity of 3.3W/m2/C. The IPCC models use positive feedback of about 0.9 to 1.9W/m2/C. The climatologist I'm reading makes a powerful argument for negative feedback of about 6W/m2/C. (He also makes a good argument that much of the temperature increase in the last century was due to natural cloud variations. i.e. PDO). Anyway, I don't think geothermal is going to change things very much. Radiant heat loss is a strong function of temperature and easily carries it away.