Climate change triggers a chain reaction that threatens the heart of the Pacific

Climate change triggers a chain reaction that threatens the heart of the Pacific

SOURCE: Omaha World-Herald DATE: November 16, 2019 SNIP: The salmon catch is collapsing off Japan’s northern coast, plummeting by about 70 percent in the past 15 years. The disappearance of the fish coincides with another striking development: the loss of a unique blanket of sea ice that dips far below the Arctic to reach this shore. The twin impacts – less ice, fewer salmon – are the products of rapid warming in the Sea of Okhotsk, wedged between Siberia and Japan. The area has warmed in some places by as much as 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since preindustrial times, making it one of the fastest-warming spots in the world, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the nonprofit organization Berkeley Earth. That increase far outstrips the global average and exceeds the limit policymakers set in Paris in 2015 when they aimed to keep Earth’s average temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The rising temperatures are starting to shut down the single most dynamic sea ice factory on Earth. The intensity of ice generation in the northwestern Sea of Okhotsk exceeds that of any single place in the Arctic Ocean or Antarctica, and the sea ice reaches a lower latitude than anywhere else on the planet. Its decline has a cascade of consequences well beyond Japan as climate dominoes begin to fall. When sea ice forms here, it expels huge amounts of salt into the frigid water below the surface, creating some of the densest ocean water on Earth. That water then sinks and travels east, carrying oxygen, iron and other key...
The North Atlantic ocean current, which warms northern Europe, may be slowing

The North Atlantic ocean current, which warms northern Europe, may be slowing

SOURCE: Yale Climate Connections DATE: August 15, 2019 SNIP: A stubborn blue spot of cool ocean temperatures stands out like the proverbial sore thumb in a recent NASA image of the warming world – a circle of cool blue on a planet increasingly shaded in hot red. A region of the North Atlantic south of Greenland has experienced some of its coldest temperatures on record in recent years, a cooling unprecedented in the past thousand years. What explains that anomaly? Climatologist Michael Mann of Penn State University, in this month’s “This is Not Cool” video, explains that this phenomenon may be an indication that the North Atlantic current, part of a larger global ocean circulation, is slowing down. Stefan Rahmstorf of the University of Potsdam, Germany, says this circulation – called the thermohaline circulation, but popularly known to many in the U.S. as “the Gulf Stream” – keeps northern Europe several degrees warmer than it would otherwise be at that latitude. [T]he consequences of a shutdown would be serious for agriculture – and for temperate weather – in northern Europe. “We are 50 to a hundred years ahead of schedule with the slowdown of this ocean circulation pattern, relative to the models,” according to Mann. “The more observations we get, the more sophisticated our models become, the more we’re learning that things can happen faster, and with a greater magnitude, than we predicted just years...

SOURCE: Stefan Rahmstorf and Earth 101 DATE: July 1, 2016 SNIP: We know from Earth’s history that this ocean circulation system in the North Atlantic has been quite unstable. There have been abrupt changes leading to abrupt climate changes in the North Atlantic region leading to affect the region and the whole world. Will global warming that human activities are causing now affect that circulation system once again? … The models predicted [a slowdown in the circulation system] but we find that the cooling that we actually observe in the North Atlantic is somewhat larger than the models have predicted, so we can say the climate models have been predicting the right thing, but they have been under-predicting it, the real changes are occurring faster than what we have...