Gulf Stream change spells more sea level danger for the Caribbean

Atlantic Gulf Stream

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) — Like many other low-lying countries around the world, the islands of the Caribbean are already on the front line when it comes to the threat of sea-level rise posed by climate change. But now scientists are raising concerns about another potential problem regarding sea levels on this side of the Atlantic caused by a dramatic slowing of the Gulf Stream.

In the latest scientific research, experts warn that arctic melting is behind the decrease in the important climate phenomenon’s movement, which is expected to fuel more erratic weather around the world as well as more coastal erosion.

Research recently published in the science journal, Nature, by the University College London (UCL) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has found that the Atlantic Gulf Stream is at its weakest in more than 1,600 years. The research shows that the Gulf Stream has reduced in strength by around 15% since 1950, pointing to the role of human-made greenhouse gas emissions as the primary cause.

“The evidence we’re now able to provide is the most robust to date,” said Professor Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute, who conceived the study. “We’ve analysed all the available sea surface temperature datasets, comprising data from the late 19th century until the present.”

Peter Spooner, one of the authors from UCL, writing about the research online, said the weakening of the system may have started naturally but is probably being fuelled by climate change related to greenhouse gas emissions.

“This circulation is a key player in the Earth’s climate system and a large or abrupt slowdown could have global repercussions. It could cause sea levels on the US east coast to rise, alter European weather patterns or rain patterns more globally, and hurt marine wildlife,” Spooner said, adding that the speed of the change in the research results have come as a surprise to many, including him.

Known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), it is described by scientists as a giant conveyor belt of water. It transports warm, salty water to the north Atlantic, where it gets very cold and sinks. Once in the deep ocean the water flows back southwards and then all around the world’s oceans.

Scientists believe that severe weather events will increase as a result of the slowing of the important weather system, causing colder winters in the north, drought in the tropics, stronger storms and heatwaves, as well as coastal flooding around the world.

Republished with permission of Cayman News Service



  1. It appears that Mother Nature is warning people who live in low lying areas that it’s time to relocate. I see plenty of complaining and reporting on the upcoming changes but very little on what effected people are planning to do about it. If I lived in one of the areas being discussed I would certainly be looking to move or modernize my accommodations to cope with the changes. The strange thing you never see discussed is why the “supposed man-made global warming” is not warming up the northern half of the U.S. which is still experiencing freezing weather and blizzards in April. Strange!

    “Peter Spooner, one of the authors from UCL, writing about the research online, said the weakening of the system may have started naturally but is probably being fuelled by climate change related to greenhouse gas emissions.” Since when do scientist use terms like “may have” or “probably”. The fact is we are experiencing a natural phenomena and we need to learn to deal with it instead of spending billions of dollars trying to change it.

    • Exactly. Notice that just two years ago the cry was “global warming,” except that the warming never occurred where the so-experts — many of them environmental extremists masquerading as scientists — said it would occur. No these same experts have shifted gears by taking only about “climate change” which could mean anything these experts want it to mean.

      The bottom line is that even if extreme anthropogenic global warming is occurring and will devastate many ecosystems, there is little that human intervention could do to stop it. All we can do is adapt, including seeking higher ground, as you imply.


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