Volume 452 Issue 7184, 13 March 2008

The Gulf Stream is a warm Atlantic current that transports heat northward, keeping Western Europe significantly warmer than North America in winter. It is known to influence short-term weather phenomena such as surface winds and cyclone formation, but its effects on longer-term climate and at higher levels in the atmosphere are poorly understood. Now a combination of weather analyses, satellite data and an atmospheric general circulation model reveals that the Gulf Streamãƒâ‚ã‚â’s influence is felt well above the near-surface portion of the atmosphere. The current anchors a tall wall of atmospheric upward motion that penetrates into the upper troposphere and supports deep raining clouds. This provides a pathway by which the Gulf Stream can affect local climate, and possibly climate in remote regions via an effect on planetary wave propagation. The cover graphic represents surface current speeds in blue-white colours (white is the fastest) and upward wind velocities in yellow-red colours (red for stronger winds), along with land-surface topography in eastern North America. Cover graphic by F. Araki and S. Kawahara, ESC JAMSTEC

Editorial

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Research Highlights

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Review Article

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Letter

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Erratum

Prospects

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