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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

More support for the "conveyor" theory

Some scientists have expressed concern that decreasing salinity in the North Atlantic (resulting from an increased melting of the Greenland ice sheet and increased runoff from Siberian rivers) may, eventually, lead to an ocean current known as the conveyor slowing down and/or stopping, which would in turn cause a fall in Western European temperatures.

It now looks as though "the most abrupt and widespread cool spell in the last 10 000 years" may in fact have been caused in almost the same way. Approximately 8 200 years ago, an enormous system of lakes broke through an ice "dam", drained into Hudson Bay and then into the North Atlantic. Geological evidence indicates that, at about the same time, temperatures in Greenland dropped by around 7.4°C and in Europe by about 1°C. Two teams of reasearchers, using different models, have concluded that "such a freshwater flood could shut down ocean circulation in a way that is consistent with temperature data from the time".

(via New Scientist)