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Climate-Controling Ocean Currents Not Slowing April 2, 2010
Ocean current graphic
Surface water sinks in the Arctic and flows southwards at the bottom of the ocean, driving the circulation.
A slowdown of the Gulf Stream and the entire “ocean conveyor belt” circulation has not begun to occur as predicted by some climate models.

Researchers from the U.K. and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory say that while there is considerable variability in the global ocean current system, long-term trends remain nearly neutral.

It had been believed that accelerated melting of ice sheets would cause changes in salinity that could disrupt the climate-controlling currents.

But despite recent record Arctic melting, there has been no discernible change in the North Atlantic component of the global thermohaline system, researchers say.

The Gulf Stream is key to keeping Western Europe much warmer than its latitude north of the equator would normally allow.

The warm current keeps Europe as much as 7 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it would otherwise be.

Graphic: Columbia University