Deep ocean sediments offer a record of ocean circulation in the past. By studying these sediments, we can see that abrupt changes in ocean circulation and the subsequent climate change are not a new phenomenon, but have happened on several occasions in the past. When the great ice sheets covering North America and Scandinavia melted at the end of the last ice age, the subsequent flow of fresh water into the North Atlantic caused the greatest natural disturbance in ocean circulation in the last 20,000 years. This episode provides an excellent model to examine the relation between ocean disturbance and climate instability.
According to a revision article published in Science, ocean circulation during the last ice age was very different to present day circulation. The formation of deep water currents in the North Atlantic was much weaker and the flow of warm water from the Gulf Stream decreased. This led to a cooling of the northern hemisphere and contributed to the formation of the great ice caps which covered North America, Scandinavia and Europe.
In a similar study, the marine sediments of the North Atlantic were observed in order to document the sequence of events that led to that disturbance. The melting caused a significant decrease in the Gulf Stream, which transports warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to the North. This submerged the region of the North Atlantic into a period of glacial cold which lasted at least 1,200 years.
Nevertheless, the slowing down of the ocean circulation in the North Atlantic began about 700 to 1,200 years before this great melting of the ice caps and the subsequent flow of fresh water into the ocean took place. The very first stage of this change coincided with brief and isolated periods of melting of the small British Ice Sheet (BIS). The authors of the study have come to this conclusion from an observation of the fine layers of sediment (formed by grains of quartz) coming from successive waves of icebergs which, when they melted dumped their load of sediments onto the sea bed. These icebergs came from the edges of the ice which surround and stabilised the BIS.
These results show that the disturbances caused by melting may in turn cause substantial changes in ocean circulation without the need for a catastrophic dumping of fresh water. This seems to indicate that an acceleration in the melting of the Greenland ice cap, could, in fact, play a key role in the future stability of ocean circulation and climate change in the whole North Atlantic region.
Octavi López Coronado | alfa
The Wadden Sea and the Elbe Studied with Zeppelin, Drones and Research Ships
19.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung
FotoQuest GO: Citizen science campaign targets land-use change in Austria
19.09.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
20.09.2017 | Life Sciences
20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy