Study: Climate change is pushing giant ocean currents poleward

by Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News


Wind-driven ocean currents are moving towards the poles, causing impacts such as sea-level rise and storms.

  • The shift in poles will affect sea-level rise on the East Coast of the US and disrupt salmon fishing waters on the West Coast
  • Gyres, which are large systems of ocean currents, are also changing along with the smaller currents and will impact ocean life and coastal cities
  • Changes in gyres will cause intense heatwaves in the subtropics and impact fishing in the Pacific Ocean
  • The changes in ocean currents are part of natural fluctuations but some can be attributed to climate change
  • As long as global temperatures increase, the movement of the currents are not likely to stop

With 9 of 15 global tipping points now active, what we do today can either unleash an inhospitable hothouse Earth or secure a safe climate well into the future. As the science and climate reality demand, our only hope for a vibrant, healthy, and equitable future for all is to enact bold climate policies now, not decades from now.

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Global warming is speeding up Earth’s massive ocean currents- another mega-scale consequence of climate change

By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine

And see here, The world’s oceans are speeding up — another mega-scale consequence of climate change


Ocean currents have been increasing in energy for the last few decades, which can affect jet streams, weather patterns, marine wildlife and the amount of heat stored in the ocean’s depths.

  • Three-quarters of the world’s ocean waters have sped up their pace in recent decades, a massive development that was not expected to occur until climate warming became much more advanced.
  • Scientists aren’t certain of all the consequences of this speedup yet. But they may include impacts in key regions along the eastern coasts of continents, where several currents have intensified. The result in some cases has been damaging ocean hotspots that have upended marine life.
  • The study notes that in extreme climate warming scenarios, a speedup of global winds also occurs — but the change was expected to peak at the end of this century, after vastly more warming than has happened so far. This suggests the Earth might actually be more sensitive to climate change than our simulations can currently show, McPhaden said.
  • As waters warm, less carbon dioxide can be absorbed by oceans, limiting sequestration and shifting weather patterns
  • Heat may also be stored in the depths of the ocean which can help slow warming on land

The Climate Center supports policies that enhance healthy ecosystems on land and at sea, to sustain biodiversity and catalyze additional carbon sequestration, key to achieving net-negative emissions by 2030.

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