Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ocean current switch due to warming could be slower than feared

CHICAGO — The nightmare global warming scenario which provided the plot for a Hollywood blockbuster -- the Atlantic Ocean current that keeps Europe warm shuts down and triggers rapid climate change -- has long worried scientists.

But a study published Thursday in the journal Science found it may not occur as quickly as previously feared.

There is evidence that this current has shut down with some regularity in the past -- and sometimes quite rapidly -- in response to large influxes of fresh water from melting glaciers.

However, it appears as though the current rate of glacial melt is occurring at a more gradual pace which will "give ecosystems more time to adjust to new conditions," said study coauthor Peter Clark, a professor of geosciences at Oregon State University.

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