Slowing Gulf Stream, Implications for Ireland

April 28, 2018

If you’ve been following these videos – you’d have seen a prescient discussion of the issue in 2015, 3 years ahead of the current media concerns about a slowdown in North Atlantic current.

New papers confirming observations of slowdown in North Atlantic current triggering alarm bells on an issue that was thought to be one for the next century, if ever.
Help keep me in the climate Paul Revere business.  Click the link for Dark Snow support.

Irish Times:

All Ireland is washed by the Gulf Stream,” said Stephen Dedalus in the opening chapter of Ulysses. He might have added warmed to washed.

Ireland lies relatively far north in the Atlantic so the Gulf Stream’s gift of more temperate waters matters hugely to our climate, as does their interaction with the atmosphere to produce the sea surface temperature. This oceanic movement of waters is known scientifically as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc). It brings warm and salty water from the Caribbean region in a northeasterly current towards the Nordic Seas.

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As Summer K Praetorius goes on to explain in the April 11th issue of the scientific journal Nature: “In the chill of winter, these waters cool and descend with the heavy load of their salinity. This deep convection is a key part of the Amoc which can be thought of as an ocean conveyor belt that releases heat to the atmosphere above the North Atlantic Ocean before travelling through the abyssal ocean to resurface in other areas of the world.” The process is linked to and replicated throughout the world’s oceans by the deep colder waters that travel past North and South America.

Praetorius makes these points in introducing two startling research papers on Amoc and the Gulf Stream which show it has slowed down by about 15 per cent. That is the equivalent to the loss of water produced by 15 Amazons or three times the effect of bringing all the Earth’s rivers and streams to a stop. It is the biggest change we know about for 1,600 years.

Previous research has shown such changes can be abrupt and have major effects on climate. On one calculation, there have been 25 shifts from colder to warmer waters over the last 115,000 years. One leading oceanographer, Prof Stefan Rahmstorf, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said that “from the study of past climate, we know changes in the Amoc have been some of the most abrupt and impactful events in the history of climate”. During the last Ice Age, winter temperatures changed by up to 10 degrees within three years in some places.

Below, my interview with ice core expert J. P. Steffensen – made possible by your donations to Dark Snow Project – explained the issue of North Atlantic current slow down.

The first paper by Caesar, Rahmstorf et al examines changes in the sea surface temperatures in the subpolar gyre – the cyclonic system of wind-driven ocean currents that lies to the south of Iceland – and links them to the latest models of climate change showing the effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. This gives them the 15 per cent estimate, which they also link with how climate change affects Greenland’s ice sheet by adding fresh water to the surface ocean and reducing the density of the water driving the deep convection conveyor belt. They conclude that the slowdown in the Amoc is probably a response to warming caused by human greenhouse-gas emissions.

The second paper by Thornalley et al is more bottom-up in its approach, using proxy measurements of the deep-sea sediment grains cores reflecting the speeds of the bottom waters along the path of Amoc’s deep-water return flow. This gives them a picture of change over the last 1,600 years. A stable period from AD 400 to 1850 weakened thereafter, coinciding with the end of the “little Ice Age” in Europe from 1300. Their work puts more emphasis on climate variability than on human-induced change. But the striking similarity of their finding about Amoc’s slowing-down and its potential effects on Europe’s climate is chastening in light of Ireland’s recent experience of hurricanes and blizzards.

This research shows vividly that the natural history of our climate is non-linear, contains tipping points which could dramatically affect living conditions and is linked to human-induced changes that can be reversed if we are sufficiently determined to act fast enough.

That these studies have attracted so little media attention in Ireland is really surprising given our direct exposure to the Atlantic and how it affects our climate. They should be a spur to combat the complacent official approach towards Ireland’s weakening record on climate change action.

Mention of subpolar gyres and sudden change recalls WB Yeats’s references to these swirling vortexes in The Second Coming: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre  The falcon cannot hear the falconer;  Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;  Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,  The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere  The ceremony of innocence is drowned;  The best lack all conviction, while the worst  Are full of passionate intensity.”

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28 Responses to “Slowing Gulf Stream, Implications for Ireland”

  1. ted knopper Says:

    I notice that this piece makes no mention of the medieval warm period which occured with the current per the study being steady if one believes that 400 AD to 1859 AD number. Either the climate has no effect on the current or something is wrong with the study. In any case other studies have shown major changes in the climate in very short periods of time, 10 years or so so the idea the climate is static is simply untrue.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      The surface temperatures of Europe do not in and of themselves tell us what the meltwater from the Arctic was like at the time, nor the temperature of the ocean currents. Why do you think they should?

      BE SPECIFIC.

      • ted knopper Says:

        This piece is talking about Ireland and what its surface temperatures may be if the current slows more or stops as that current warms both Ireland and europe.

        The first study concludes : “They conclude that the slowdown in the Amoc is probably a response to warming caused by human greenhouse-gas emissions.”
        IE warmer means slower and that human CO2 emission caused the warming.

        The second study concludes: “A stable period from AD 400 to 1850 weakened thereafter, coinciding with the end of the “little Ice Age” in Europe from 1300.”
        The second study includes the run up to the medieval warm period, the medieval warm period and a lot of the little ice age depending on when you conclude it might end or has ended.

        If one take the AD 400 to 1850 data at face value the current was stable which means it was not affecting europe’s climate nor Irelands.

        If one takes the first study premise that colder means faster and warmer means slower, the warming and slowing must start a long time before the climate of europe changes depending on the ocean circulation cycle.

        At the NOAA site the ocean circulation cycle is set at 1000 years so the medieval warm period high would have had the current at a maximum around 1000 AD and a minium around 1500 AD which would agree with the actual climate.

        The two studies are going in opposite directions so one or both have problems matching reality.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          ZZZZZzzzzzzz…….!!!

        • Sir Charles Says:

          You must be getting some crucial basics wrong, ted. Here more about the studies => Stronger evidence for a weaker Atlantic overturning circulation

          • ted knopper Says:

            I simply cannot understand how you can look at your graft and come to the conclusion you do. the premise of this post is the strong current warms Ireland. The corollary to that hypothesis is a slower current means it will be colder.

            Your studies represented by those grafts show the current temperatures falling at same time the world, including Ireland is warming from the little ice age low.

            Look at the 1700 to 1850 number, mans CO2 output during that period was a tiny fraction of today’s production. It was between 270-290 ppm during the entire period. The current cooled roughly 25 percent per your graft from the base anomaly of 1 and that had a positive effect on europe’s temperatures as the temperature rose.

            That is the opposite of the claim Ireland is warmer due to the strong warm current.

      • Sir Charles Says:

        Here is your medieval warm period, ted:

        • ted knopper Says:

          I am looking at your grafts. Basically they vary a lot depending on the data set used but there is an upward trend from the little ice age low. So what is your point?

          If you look at the data sets for the ocean temperatures they show a decrease in temperatures as the world warmed. The premise of this piece is a warmer world means a slowing current and colder temperatures but the world outside of the current warmed.

          • Sir Charles Says:

            This is my point, ted:

            Meanwhile, accelerating release of glacier meltwater from Greenland is slowing down the North Atlantic ocean circulation… That’s another point.

            https://robertscribbler.com/2018/04/23/why-a-15-percent-slow-down-in-north-atlantic-ocean-circulation-is-seriously-bad-news/

            It’s called “climate change”, ted, due to anthropogenic global warming – rapid warming in geological terms.

          • leslie graham Says:

            Here’s a temperature reconstruction for the globe for the last 1000 years:

            Here’s a temperature reconstruction for the globe for the last 1000 years:

            The green dots on that graph are based on this study:
            http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n5/full/ngeo1797.html

            It took 78 researchers from 24 countries – together with many other colleagues – over seven years to painstakingly piece together this climate reconstruction which, by the way, was published in ‘Nature’ – the most respected of all the science journals.
            Their study was based on 511 climate archives from around the world and uses millions of data points from a huge range of temperature proxies, such as documents, ice, lakes, pollen, tree rings, corals, seabeds and speleothems.

            There is absolutely NO evidence that the global average temperature during the medieval period was warmer than the global average temperature today. Indeed there is overwhelming evidence that it wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

            As the paper put’s it:

            “…The most coherent feature in nearly all of the regional temperature reconstructions is a long-term cooling trend, which ended late in the nineteenth century….”

            “…There were no globally synchronous multi-decadal warm or cold intervals that define a worldwide Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age…Recent warming reversed the long-term cooling; during the period ad 1971–2000, the area-weighted average reconstructed temperature was higher than any other time in nearly 1,400 years…”

            Basically – The Earth is much hotter now. There really is no debate about this in the scientific community and there hasn’t been for decades.
            It has been pretty much mainstream science since Gilbert Plass published his seminal work; “The Theory of Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change” way back in 1956.

            The myths that the fossil fuel industry endlessly promulgate originate in very early attempts in the 1960’s to estimate past average global temperatures.
            Most of it was then based on the Central England Record as this dates back 300 years and a few other patchy records mainly from Europe. Since then vastly improved data from every corner of the globe has meant that these early estimates have also been vastly improved as the studies I’ve mentioned and linked to show.

            The green dots on that graph are based on this study:
            http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n5/full/ngeo1797.html

            It took 78 researchers from 24 countries – together with many other colleagues – over seven years to painstakingly piece together this climate reconstruction which, by the way, was published in ‘Nature’ – the most respected of all the science journals.
            Their study was based on 511 climate archives from around the world and uses millions of data points from a huge range of temperature proxies, such as documents, ice, lakes, pollen, tree rings, corals, seabeds and speleothems.

            There is absolutely NO evidence that the global average temperature during the medieval period was warmer than the global average temperature today. Indeed there is overwhelming evidence that it wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

            As the paper put’s it:

            “…The most coherent feature in nearly all of the regional temperature reconstructions is a long-term cooling trend, which ended late in the nineteenth century….”

            “…There were no globally synchronous multi-decadal warm or cold intervals that define a worldwide Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age…Recent warming reversed the long-term cooling; during the period ad 1971–2000, the area-weighted average reconstructed temperature was higher than any other time in nearly 1,400 years…”

            Basically – The Earth is much hotter now. There really is no debate about this in the scientific community and there hasn’t been for decades.
            It has been pretty much mainstream science since Gilbert Plass published his seminal work; “The Theory of Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change” way back in 1956.

            The myths that the fossil fuel industry endlessly promulgate originate in very early attempts in the 1960’s to estimate past average global temperatures.
            Most of it was then based on the Central England Record as this dates back 300 years and a few other patchy records mainly from Europe. Since then vastly improved data from every corner of the globe has meant that these early estimates have also been vastly improved as the studies I’ve mentioned and linked to show.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Why do we waste time responding to this confused nitwit of a denier? Who gives a (soon to be frozen?) rodent’s rear end about the MWP when we have the last 15 years of data to occupy us? EVERYTHING is trending negatively, and there seems to be little or NO natural variability involved.

      What is wrong with you, Knothead, that you fail to see what is happening and instead post confused irrelevancies? Is it that you want to be noticed? If so, just take off your clothes and go play in traffic—-that’ll work, and maybe you’ll get arrested and sent to the loony bin where they will help you.

      • redskylite Says:

        Indeed we do waste time trying to reason with Ted/Tom “Grafts” Bates/Knopper, who mentally is locked in to the Medieval Warming Period and Little Ice age, and cannot see that we are in a completely different world now in the 21st century.

        He is blinkered like a few others I’ve encountered. Just about everyone else is now acknowledging the problem. Richer fossil fuel entities are being sued. There is the start of a new era.

        As Ireland is the main subject of this post from the Greenman, Ireland certainly know what is store for them in the future. And to keep harping back to the LIA and MWP helps nobody Ted/Tom or whoever you are.

        “Extreme weather events, such as the recent storms Emma and Ophelia, invariably expose critical weakness in infrastructure, especially in the most populated cities and towns. Nowhere is that more obvious than in dealing with widespread flooding.

        The programme of flood defence works announced by the Government on Thursday is the first time a national co-ordinated response to that threat has been put in place.

        It will see an estimated €1 billion spent on 118 flood-risk management schemes, including 50 priority flood-defence schemes in some of the country’s at-risk locations. It’s the culmination of almost 10 years’ work, and begins a process of ensuring the most vulnerable areas are protected.

        Such a strategy is urgently required as the climate change clock is ticking at an accelerating rate. Devastation caused by recent flooding prompted two immediate priorities, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: improve the co-ordinated response to flood events, and ensure better long-term planning in assessing and managing flood risk.”

        https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/will-ireland-s-1bn-flood-defence-plan-beat-effects-of-climate-change-1.3483367

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    “A really incredibly great piece by some very very smart people, and it’s very very interesting that they can find out stuff like this but maybe it’s fake news and a Chinese hoax”, the Orange Dandruff Picker might say if he ever stopped talking about himself. Or maybe he’d just ignore it, or tell Pruitt and his other lackeys to not let EPA, NOAA, and NASA scientists talk about it.

    Those of us that care about science and truth should be getting very nervous and need to start paying close attention. The sentences that got my attention:

    “… Amoc and the Gulf Stream…it has slowed down by about 15 per cent. That is the equivalent to the loss of water produced by 15 Amazons or three times the effect of bringing all the Earth’s rivers and streams to a stop. It is the biggest change we know about for 1,600 years”.

    “…Stefan Rahmstorf said that “from the study of past climate, we know changes in the Amoc have been some of the most abrupt and impactful events in the history of climate”. During the last Ice Age, winter temperatures changed by up to 10 degrees within three years in some places”.

    That’s FIFTEEN FREAKING PERCENT, people——that’s DOUBLE DIGITS, in only 60 years Look at the graphs in this piece, especially the second one, and it looks like it has gone non-linear and is hockey-sticking since 2000.

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    Don’t ignore the “prescient discussion” in Greenman Crock videos comment or “Help keep me in the climate Paul Revere business. Click the link for Dark Snow support”.

    Peter has been on the leading edge in so many ways and deserves your support. I subscribe to MANY sites, and CROCK is the all-around champ. Kick in!

  4. Abel Adamski Says:

    https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/russia-launches-floating-nuclear-power-plant-for-arctic-energy-grab-20180429-p4zcac.html

    Russia launches floating nuclear power plant for Arctic energy grab

    The project has been criticised for its risks by environmentalists. Greenpeace recently warned that there was a danger of a “Chernobyl on ice”, referencing the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl reactor in Soviet-controlled Ukraine that prompted a mass evacuation and left swathes of Ukraine and neighboring Belarus uninhabitable.

    Russia wants to secure the rich deposits of oil and gas that are believed to be in the region around the North Pole. Due to climate-induced melting of ice, new ship routes are opening up in Russia’s north. Moscow is as a result strengthening its military presence in the region.

    • Abel Adamski Says:

      It can of course safely face down any blockade or military threat, no-one will want to risk damaging it and the consequences for all, potentially making the Arctic oil and gas untouchable

    • redskylite Says:

      Thanks for posting/alerting the readers Abel. First time I’ve read/heard about this, it sounds very risky, but we’ve polluted the Arctic ocean with plastics, and have started sailing through with crude oil, our indifference to this once pristine polar region, shows once again.

    • ted knopper Says:

      We already have floating nuclear power plants on the ocean. they are called ice breakers , naval ships and subs. One US nuclear sub did sink, a russian sub with nuclear armed weapons also sank, the world did not end.

      • redskylite Says:

        Not sure that the potential leakage of a nuclear submarine propulsion system can be fairly compared to a flat bottomed hulled power station (with a lack of self-propulsion system).

        The sunken nuclear sub in the Barents sea is being carefully monitored and there is a recognized risk of leakage, which may not be the end of the world to you or I, but would affect the local ecosystems and also local fisheries drastically.

        “Like most Soviet submarines, also the K-159 had two reactors on board. The reactor compartment, inside the inner hull, was not possible for the researchers to examine. Both reactors had been shut down for 15 years before the submarine sank.

        Despite being old, the amount of radioactivity in the two reactors is still high and sooner or later the submarine should be lifted, both Russian and Norwegian experts agree.”

        «Monitoring of the marine environment around K-159 should be followed closely, especially in connection with any future plans for the recovery of the submarine,» the report concludes.

        https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/ecology/2018/01/no-leakages-sunken-nuclear-sub-yet

      • redskylite Says:

        And, just for interest, the U.S had one of these in service between 1968-1975, although they kept clear of the icy polar regions thankfully.

        “MH-1A was the first floating nuclear power station. Named Sturgis after General Samuel D. Sturgis, Jr., this pressurized water reactor built in a converted Liberty ship was part of a series of reactor,s in the US Army Nuclear Power Program, which aimed to develop small nuclear reactors to generate electrical and space-heating energy primarily at remote, relatively inaccessible sites”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MH-1A


  5. Well I did some research using a very simple model. My model tells meit will rather be Scandinavia that will feel the efects of a slow down. On the latitude of Ireland there seems to be a excess of enrgie and not a shortage. It is a very simple model.
    The article is written in dutch. The link: https://raymondhorstman.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/een-maan-met-aardse-eigenschappen/

    • Sir Charles Says:

      Is a Moon with Earth characteristics a useful concept.

      Conclusions

      A careful distinction must be made between the Earth and a Moon with earthly properties. There are no feedbacks on the Moon and no energy transport is possible from the tropics to the poles. The result is that my model underestimates the temperatures of the polar regions and the temperature of the tropics is greatly overestimated. In general, my model estimates the temperatures too high. This is not a shortcoming of my model. If I calculate the energy shortages and surpluses for the polar regions and the tropics and the energy transport takes place, the temperatures will be correct. After all, this takes place on the Earth. It turns out that I then have enough energy left over for evaporation and thermal. In this way too, the surface can lose energy and cool down. If you let all these processes take place, my model is very good. In combination with the energy transport from the tropics to the polar regions and the evaporation, my grand theory appears to be perfectly capable of determining temperatures per latitude band as well as globally. It is worthwhile to go further and try to find out to what extent my model can say something about climate change, also referred to as AGW, split up over the latitude. The reason that I first want to deal with this and then only want to continue with seasonal patterns is that the data that I have collected consists of annual averages per latitude and global. I have collected data for the period from 1979 up to and including 2017 and again determined the average. Climate is the average weather over a longer period. Usually a period of 30 years is used for this. You can divide the 38 years that I have in 2 subperiods of every 19 years and then. Then you determine the averages per latitude and global and you compare them with each other. If warming has taken place you will see this immediately and also the pattern split to latitude will then come out nicely. This research is another step forward in my research into the climate. I have been working on this for years and it is still fun and educational to do. The question that I have asked in the title, namely whether the concept of a Moon with earthly properties can be useful, is in my view positively answered. It can considerably more than I ever expected. I hope you have as much fun to read my story as I had to write it.

      WTF!


      • Sir,

        My little research shows in table I that for the latitude 60 North the calculated temperatures are close to the measured. 60 North comes closer to Scandinavia. For the lower latitudes, e.g. for Ireland there is an excess of energy no shortages.
        To be sure of it holds for Ireland self, one should collect the data for ireland and calculated if this is still true and compare it with Scandinavia if it is in equilibrium with the incoming and outcoming energy. If one is comparing may be it would be a could idea to compare the Iberic peninsualr justas well. something to test my little model with. The model I maded is ment to have no feedback mechanisms or atmosphere or ocean or energy transport or evaporation. It just shows how the temperatures would be if there is only radiation energy incoming and outgoing. With this model it would be easy to show if Ireland needs the extra enrgy that comes from the Gulfstream. The model is not fully tested jet for seasonal patterns.

        • redskylite Says:

          Interesting model but very simple, there are many papers on the climatic affects of the AMOC. I find this one published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Meteorological Society, useful and factual.

          Again it is one hell of a reason to desist from adding further GHG pollution to our atmosphere.

          “The patterns of SST warming and cooling can be related to the imprint of changes in the Atlantic overturning circulation (Drijfhout et al., 2012). In a warming climate, the overturning circulation is predicted to slow by around 0.5 Sv/decade (Stocker et al., 2013). Observations of the overturning circulation have seen a rapid decline of 0.5 Sv/year over the first 10 years (Smeed et al., 2014). This could contribute to a decline in the AMO (Klower et al., 2014). Consequently, cooler temperatures (and drier summers) in Ireland relative to a background of increasing global temperatures may well be expected.”

          https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wea.2543

  6. redskylite Says:

    This is one of the strongest arguments to ditch fossil fuels and do it now. Many studies of AMOC current declines are talking about abrupt climate change. Not the sort that can be swept well into the future while we get rich on our fossil fuel company investments. Sorry, but those halcyon days are over, we need to move on to a new whale oil, and cut our losses on our sea front properties. The reality is sinking in and how.

    Sobering fact.

    Crookhaven, Cork, Ireland Latitude : 51.4684° N

    Lake Khövsgöl, Mongolia Latitude: 51.1228° N

    Severe winters that kill large numbers of livestock are common enough in Mongolia that there is a local term for the phenomenon: dzud. Now, the consensus among the nomads is that dzud has been occurring more frequently in recent years, and it seems to be getting worse. (Scientists have already shown that a warming Arctic is making U.S. winters worse.)

    Patrick Nicholson, director of communications for the Catholic aid group Caritas, spent part of January speaking with people in Mongolia’s Uvs province about this year’s dzud. He says that a local governor, who goes only by the name Batjargal, believes overgrazing and changing climate are exacerbating the problem.

    “We used to have four seasons, but now we only have three,” Batjargal told Nicholson. “Before, June, July, and August were warm and with rain. Different types of grass would grow, and the animals would get fat. Now, we have no rain and the wind dries up the grass. It is not what it used to be.”

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2018/04/extreme-winter-mongolia-dzud-environment-science/


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