Thursday, December 01, 2005

Global climate change, not global warming

Europe is unnaturally warm given its far northern latitude. Edmonton Alberta often hits 40 below, but Edinborough gets very little snow. The secret to Europe's wamth is a warm ocean current. That current may go away in the next few decades (extensive editing below, the article was badly written and/or edited):
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Ocean changes 'will cool Europe'

... Researchers from the UK's National Oceanography Centre say currents derived from the Gulf Stream are weakening, bringing less heat north.

Their conclusions, reported in the scientific journal Nature, are based on 50 years of Atlantic observations.

... The key is the Gulf Stream. After it emerges from the Caribbean, it splits in two, with one part heading north-east to Europe and the other circulating back through the tropical Atlantic.

As the north-eastern branch flows, it gives off heat to the atmosphere, which in turn warms European land.

"It's like a radiator giving its heat to the atmosphere," said Harry Bryden from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) at Britain's Southampton University.

"The heat it gives off is roughly equivalent to the output of a million power stations," he told reporters.

... "We saw a 30% decline in the southwards flow of deep cold water," said Harry Bryden.

"And so the summary is that in 2004, we have a larger circulating current [in the tropical Atlantic] and less overturning."

... Computer models of climate have regularly predicted that the North Atlantic conveyor may well reduce in intensity or even turn off altogether ...

... if it turned off completely, Europe would cool by perhaps four to six degrees Celsius.

... The findings will have resonance beyond the shores of the UK and Europe, as extra heat left circulating around the tropical Atlantic could have major impacts on weather systems in Africa, the Caribbean and Central America.
On the other hand, warming trends might make the cooling much milder. This is why scientist don't write any more about 'global warming', they write about 'global climate change'. Even if the world on the whole gets warmer, some areas may get far colder (Europe) even as others warm up enormously (Alaska). In other areas violent weather may predominate (more warm water in the Caribbean means more hurricaines ...). We have to be ready for anything, and everything!

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