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 ago.”