Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Melting arctic sea ice to chill Europe?

The Sea Around Us is many things, including the title to Rachel Carson's other book...and the title to my college course at the University of Connecticut in the early 1990s. As you ponder today's news about ice, currents, and Europe's winters, go back to her chapter on "the global thermostat" and see how she got oceans right too.

NASA scientists have discovered that sea ice in the arctic is melting much faster than predicted. The changes in the arctic may have serious consequences for major ocean current patterns, including the Gulf Stream that brings massive amounts of heat to the North Atlantic Ocean. In particular, loss of sea ice is likely to chill Europe and parts of North America, as part of the quirky hip-hop of global warming.

All because we depend on the massive "ocean conveyer belt" that moves water and heat in a worldwide circulation pattern. If you want to get really deep, look at the science of rapid climate change. And yes, it matters for fishing too.

Who knew that ocean currents matter? (besides Rachel Carson in the 1950's)

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