Box 1. Atlantic feels climate heat

From the following article:

Antarctic ice puts climate predictions to the test

Michael Hopkin

Nature 438, 536-537(1 December 2005)

doi:10.1038/438536b

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The Atlantic Ocean is already suffering the consequences of global warming, reported climatologists from around the world in the past week. Here are examples of what they have found.

  • The North Atlantic is losing its ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This means that future emissions are more likely to cause global warming, said researchers at a meeting of the European CARBOOCEAN project in Amsterdam.
  • The carbon dioxide that does dissolve in the ocean makes it more acidic, threatening to corrode the calcareous exoskeletons of animals such as corals, attendees told the meeting. The Atlantic soaks up some 25% of all carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.
  • The system of currents that includes the Gulf Stream — which warms the temperate regions of Europe — is weakening. Research suggests its flow has reduced by a third since 1957 (see page 655). This weakening is evident not in the Gulf Stream itself (the fictional failure of which was dramatized in the film The Day After Tomorrow), but in the movement of cold, deep waters.

M.H.

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