The Earth is warming and scientists are wondering about the consequences of rising temperatures on ocean circulation that help manage the global climate. Some things, however, are about to change.
Two new studies have highlighted a critical influence of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), also known as the “ocean conveyor belt”. The aim was to offer a deeper insight into the northern origins of the AMOC and the possible triggers of warming in the areas of the North Atlantic that are significant to the current system.
Here’s what you need to know.
Understanding the AMOC
Jie Huang is a researcher who led one of the studies. He was able to discover that a regular source provides the thicker, colder waterways of the AMOC.
He realized that using a new technique, dubbed “sigma-pi distance”. It examined a historical collection of oceanographic data that includes the salinity and temperature of water samples from the 1980s.
In addition, the researcher tracked the water that flowed over the Greenland-Scotland ridge to the sea floor. Then, it reached the North Atlantic via the Strait of Denmark and the Bank of the Faroe Canal, right at the same point in the Greenland Sea.
According to the study, deep water flow occurs as surface water in the cool zone, giving off heat to the sky, becoming denser and colder.
Previously, scientists believed that warming in the Arctic and North Atlantic could disrupt the evolution of deep-sea formation, triggering the AMOC by modifying or even weakening it. As a result, there are significant changes in global and regional climate patterns.
“Where and how thick water is formed in the Nordic seas will likely change as the climate warms.”
The second study
As for the second study, conducted by Stefanie Semper, a physics oceanographer at the University of Bergen and a former WHO guest student, things remain more or less the same.
Semper used four independent pairs of observations to bring further evidence of a mysterious current that follows the Faroe Islands and the slope of the Icelandic seabed.
That region supplies about half of the water that overflows from the Greenland-Scotland Ridge into the North Atlantic via the Bank of the Faroe Channel, turning it into a significant component of the area’s overturning circulation.
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