A new study strengthens evidence that the oceans and climate are linked in an intricate dance, and that rapid climate change may be related to how vigorously ocean currents transport heat from low to high latitudes.
A new study, reported April 22 in the journal Nature, suggests that when the rate of the Atlantic Oceans north-south overturning circulation slowed dramatically following an iceberg outburst during the last deglaciation, the climate in the North Atlantic region became colder. When the rate of the oceans overturning circulation subsequently accelerated, the climate warmed abruptly.
Study author Jerry McManus and colleagues Roger Francois, Jeanne Gherardi, Lloyd Keigwin and Susan Brown-Leger at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and in France report that the coldest interval of the last 20,000 years occurred when the overturning circulation collapsed following the discharge of icebergs into the North Atlantic 17,500 years ago. This regional climatic extreme began suddenly and lasted for two thousand years. Another cold snap 12,700 years ago lasting more than a thousand years and accompanied another slowdown of overturning circulation. Each of these two cold intervals was followed by a rapid acceleration of the overturning circulation and dramatically warmer climates over Northern Europe and the North Atlantic region.
Shelley Dawicki | EurekAlert!
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