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Ocean circulation in North Atlantic is at its weakest for 1,500 years – and at levels that previously triggered a mini Ice Age, study warns

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  • Study shows the levels are at their lowest for 1,500 years
  • Currents have a ‘profound effect’ on both North American and European climate
  • Researcher found a similar weak signal during a period called the Little Ice Age, a cold spell observed between about 1600 and 1850 AD

Researchers have discovered that water in the North Atlantic has ‘dramatically weakened.’

The study shows the levels are at their lowest of for 1,500 years – and climate change is to blame.

Researchers warn the currents will have a ‘profound effect’ on both the North American and European climate.

Researchers studied the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), the branch of the North Atlantic circulation that brings warm surface water toward the Arctic and cold deep water toward the equator.

The research, co-led by Drs. Christelle Not and Benoit Thibodeau from the Department of Earth Sciences and the Swire Institute of Marine Science, The University of Hong Kong, is interpreted to be a direct consequence of global warming and associated melt of the Greenland Ice-Sheet.

Slower circulation in the North Atlantic can yield profound change on both the North American and European climate but also on the African and Asian summer monsoon rainfall.

‘The AMOC plays a crucial role in regulating global climate, but scientists are struggling to find reliable indicators of its intensity in the past.

‘The discovery of this new record of AMOC will enhance our understanding of its drivers and ultimately help us better comprehend potential near-future change under global warming’ said Dr. Thibodeau.

The research team also found a weak signal during a period called the Little Ice Age (a cold spell observed between about 1600 and 1850 AD).

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