Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Global Warming: Shutdown Of Atlantic Current Would Ravage Food Stocks

The circulation system is like a conveyor belt, taking warm water from the Caribbean in the tropical western Atlantic to the cold latitudes of the northeastern Atlantic.
Paris (AFP) Mar 31, 2005
If the North Atlantic Ocean's circulation system is shut down - an apocalyptic global-warming scenario - the impact on the world's food supplies would be disastrous, a study said last Thursday.

The shutdown would cause global stocks of plankton, a vital early link in the food chain, to decline by a fifth while plankton stocks in the North Atlantic itself would shrink by more than half, it said.

"A massive decline of plankton stocks could have catastrophic effects on fisheries and human food supply in the affected regions," warned the research, authored by Andreas Schmittner of Oregon State University.

The circulation system is like a conveyor belt, taking warm water from the Caribbean in the tropical western Atlantic to the cold latitudes of the northeastern Atlantic.

There, the warm surface water cools and sinks, gradually getting hauled around back to the southwest, where it warms again and rises to the surface.

This movement is vital for northwestern Europe, for the warm water brings the region balmy, wet weather. Without it, Ireland, Britain, parts of France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany would be plunged into prolonged, bitter winters.

The circulation is also essential for plankton, providing an upwelling of deep-water nutrients on which these tiny creatures feed. In turn, the plankton feed fish and other marine animals, which in turn are harvested by humans.

Schmittner, writing in the British weekly science journal Nature, said his computer model of plankton loss was based on a disruption of the circulation system over 500 years, during which the conveyor belt lost more than 80 percent of its power.

Temporary slowdowns in the Atlantic's circulation system have occurred in the past, most notably after the end of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago, said Schmittner.

Isotope traces from Greenland icecores suggest there were bursts of rapid warmings of 10 C (18 F), which melted huge amounts of Arctic ice.

This influx, because it comprised cold freshwater, sank to the bottom of the ocean floor, essentially acting like a giant sandbag thrown on the conveyor belt, braking its movement.

Today, Earth is considered to be in an "inter-glacial" period - a balmy period between ice ages.

But scientists say there is a possibility of another big temperature rise induced by man-made global warming, caused by the spewing of fossil-fuel greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

One scenario, considered outlandish only a few years ago but now increasingly taken seriously, is that a fast melt of part of the Greenland icesheet could slow or stop the warm-water circulation in the North Atlantic, with catastrophic, long-term results.

All rights reserved. 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

Related Links
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

Second Undersea Canyon Expedition To Study Ocean Crust Construction
Durham NC (SPX) Jan 14, 2005
The second Duke University-led expedition since 1999 to a deep underwater canyon will take geologists to another place in the eastern Pacific Ocean where new sea floor was forged out of volcanic lava within the past several million years.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.