Florida current is weaker now than at any point in the past century

Posted: August 8, 2020 by oldbrew in Ocean dynamics, research, sea levels

Image credit: NASA

And by coincidence (?) so is the sun.
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A key component of the Gulf Stream has markedly slowed over the past century—that’s the conclusion of a new research paper in Nature Communications published on August 7, says Phys.org.

The study develops a method of tracking the strength of near-shore ocean currents using measurements made at the coast, offering the potential to reduce one of the biggest uncertainties related to observations of climate change over the past century.

“In the ocean, almost everything is connected,” said Christopher Piecuch, an assistant scientist in the Physical Oceanography Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and author of the study. “We can use those connections to look at things in the past or far from shore, giving us a more complete view of the ocean and how it changes across space and time.”

Piecuch, who specializes in coastal and regional sea level change, used a connection between coastal sea level and the strength of near-shore currents to trace the evolution of the Florida Current, which forms the beginning of the Gulf Stream.

The Gulf Stream flows north along the Southeast Atlantic Coast of the United States and eventually east into the North Atlantic Ocean, carrying heat, salt, momentum, and other properties that influence Earth’s climate.

Because nearly continuous records of sea level stretch back more than a century along Florida’s Atlantic Coast and in some parts of the Caribbean, he was able to use mathematical models and simple physics to extend the reach of direct measurements of the Gulf Stream to conclude that it has weakened steadily and is weaker now than at any other point in the past 110 years.

One of the biggest uncertainties in climate models is the behavior of ocean currents either leading to or responding to changes in Earth’s climate. Of these, one of the most important is the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, which is a large system or “conveyor belt” of ocean currents in the Atlantic that includes the Gulf Stream and that helps regulate global climate.

Piecuch’s analysis agrees with relationships seen in models between the deeper branches of the AMOC and the Gulf Stream, and it corroborates studies suggesting that the deeper branches of AMOC have slowed in recent years.

Full article here.

Solar cycle 14 – was the fourteenth solar cycle since 1755, when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began. The solar cycle lasted 11.5 years, beginning in January 1902 and ending in July 1913. The maximum smoothed sunspot number (SIDC formula) observed during the solar cycle was 107.1, in February 1906 (the lowest since the Dalton Minimum) – Wikipedia

  1. How will the diminished solar activity effect the gulf stream?

  2. Chaeremon says:

    In the ocean, almost everything is connected … trace the evolution of [just] the Florida Current

    Thank you very much, stopped reading after this blatant contradiction.

  3. Curious George says:

    “In the ocean, almost everything is connected,” said author of the study. “We can use those connections to look at things in the past or far from shore, giving us a more complete view of the ocean and how it changes across space and time.”

    Yes we can, in a fantasy world. We don’t have complete data needed for the task, nor super-mega-computers needed. As it is, we can play homogenized data in a time-reversed video.

  4. oldbrew says:

    Chaeremon – see study:

    Swiftly flowing north through the narrow, shallow Florida Straits, the Florida Current marks the headwaters of the Gulf Stream 1,2,3,4 (Fig. 1).

  5. oldbrew says:

    The Guardian inserts gratuitous alarms, but anyway…

    Gulf Stream current at its weakest in 1,600 years, studies show
    11 Apr 2018

    Scientists know that Amoc has slowed since 2004, when instruments were deployed at sea to measure it. But now two new studies have provided comprehensive ocean-based evidence that the weakening is unprecedented in at least 1,600 years, which is as far back as the new research stretches.


    Amoc = Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation

    Severe! Abrupt! Unprecedented! — start running 🙄

  6. stpaulchuck says:

    gee, all of 1600 years. We’ve had several ice ages and inter glacial warm ups in the last 450,000 years and all they’ve got is 1600 years? Add to that they make this scare story out of ‘models’ fed data from a localized record of shore and near shore readings and not actually out IN the stream.

    What a crock.

  7. Chaswarnertoo says:

    Any figures? No? It’s BS then.

  8. GregG says:

    Simple fear mongering. The Florida current is slowing down, which will slow down or stop the Gulf Stream and we all know what happens next…or you should if you watched the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”, an ice age will soon commence.
    However, when looking into it just a tiny bit, you will discover that during the last ice age, the Gulf Stream current was just fine:

    The warm water was there, it was just beneath the cold water.

  9. Ron Clutz says:

    Models and statistical razzle-dazzle. Observations say otherwise. Lozier et al. 2019 concluded:
    “In summary, while modeling studies have suggested a linkage between deep-water mass formation and AMOC variability, observations to date have been spatially or temporally compromised and therefore insufficient either to support or to rule out this connection.


  10. Phoenix44 says:

    When anybody compares relatively small changes measured using modern instruments with a 1,600 year record….do you laugh or cry?

  11. oldbrew says:

    While climate models predict a weakening of AMOC under global warming scenarios, the magnitude of observed and reconstructed weakening is out of step with model predictions. Observed decline in the period 2004–2014 was a factor of 10 higher than that predicted by climate models participating in Phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). [bold added]

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