A North Atlantic Ocean circulation system weakened considerably in the late 1990s, compared to the 1970s and 1980s, according to a NASA study.
Dominant Pattern of Variability of the Sea-surface Height in the 1990s
This image shows the dominant pattern of variability of the sea-surface height in the 1990s. The slope of the sea-surface height is in balance with ocean currents, much in the way weather maps of pressure relate to winds. The large blue region in the northern Atlantic represents a slowing of the counter-clockwise,
cyclonically circulating subpolar gyre. For this image, the researchers used TOPEX/Poseidon data, which has been combined with ERS-1/2 data into the NASA Pathfinder data set. The Pathfinder data set also includes the Seasat and Geosat data which are referenced to TOPEX/Poseidon data. The next few years will reveal how sea surface height is going to evolve as the altimetric time series continues with JASON-1 observations. Credit: Sirpa Hakkinen, NASA GSFC
Terra MODIS Sea Surface Temperatures for North Atlantic Ocean
This image of North Atlantic Ocean sea surface temperatures represents an eight-day composite from Sept 6 - Sept 13, 2001 from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on Terra. The red and orange colors represent warmer water, while the blue shades represent cold water in the higher latitudes. The Gulf Stream is evident along the U.S. eastern seaboard. The color bar is in units of degrees Celsius. Credit: Ronald Vogel, SAIC for NASA GSFC
Sirpa Hakkinen, lead author and researcher at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. and co-author Peter Rhines, an oceanographer at the University of Washington, Seattle, believe slowing of this ocean current is an indication of dramatic changes in the North Atlantic Ocean climate. The studys results about the system that moves water in a counterclockwise pattern from Ireland to Labrador were published on the Internet by the journal Science on the Science Express Web site at:
http://www.sciencexpress.org or http://www.aaas.org
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