The Galapagos Islands will be a cool refuge in a warming world, say climate scientists – and it’s getting cooler

Posted: November 19, 2022 by oldbrew in climate, Ocean dynamics
Tags: ,

Galapagos islands [image credit: BBC]


Does the claim here that ‘almost every part of the ocean is heating up’ stand up to scrutiny? The article appears to contradict itself when stating ‘this cooling is the product of upwelling caused by the collision of a deep ocean current’ and referring to an ‘icy current’. The researchers say ‘this cooling water is fighting a losing battle with a warming atmosphere’, but deep ocean currents are by definition a long way from the surface most of the time.
– – –
A geological coincidence placed the Galapagos Islands in the line of an icy current that provides food and shelter in a warming ocean, says Hakai Magazine.

The good news might not last for long.

Pushed by climate change, almost every part of the ocean is heating up. But off the west coast of the Galapagos Islands, there is a patch of cold, nutrient-rich water. This prosperous patch feeds phytoplankton and breathes life into the archipelago.

“The cool water sustains populations of penguins, marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, and cetaceans that would not be able to stay on the equator year round,” says Judith Denkinger, a marine ecologist at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador.

Over the past four decades, this cold patch has cooled by roughly half a degree. Its persistence has scientists wondering how long it will hold. The Galapagos Islands are already famed for their biodiversity.

Could it be that the water offshore will become a refuge for marine animals seeking cold water in a warming world? The answer, it seems, is yes. At least for a while.

There are other cold pools on the planet. One, in the North Atlantic just south of Greenland, is caused by the weakening of a global current that carries heat north.

But according to a new study led by Kris Karnauskas and Donata Giglio, climate scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder, the Galapagos cold pool is a product of the shape of the seafloor and the rotation of the planet—two things unlikely to change because of rising greenhouse gases. And the Galapagos are not the only islands seeing this effect.

Along the equator, several islands have unusually cold water lying immediately to their west. According to Karnauskas and Giglio’s work, this cooling is the product of upwelling caused by the collision of a deep ocean current against the islands lying in its path.

Analyzing 22 years’ worth of ocean temperature data collected by Argo floats, along with observations from satellites, ocean gliders, and cruises, the scientists constructed temperature profiles around several equatorial islands and pinpointed the location of the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC), a cold, fast-flowing current that travels eastward about 100 meters below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

The EUC is held in place along the equator by the Coriolis force, an inertia brought on by the Earth’s spin on its axis. This same effect twists hurricanes anticlockwise north of the equator and clockwise south of it. [Talkshop comment – not bad for a fictitious force].

Karnauskas and Giglio’s work shows that when the EUC gets within 100 kilometers west of the Galapagos Islands, it suddenly intensifies as it’s diverted upward by the islands. This causes the water to be up to 1.5 °C cooler than the water outside this cold pool. The researchers found a similar, yet weaker, effect west of the Gilbert Islands in the western Pacific Ocean.

In a separate study, Karnauskas shows that over the past few decades, the EUC has been getting stronger and deeper. It’s also moved about 10 kilometers south, bringing its path more in line with the Galapagos Islands.

All of those changes contribute to the observed cooling, says Karnauskas.

Full article here.

Comments
  1. Parts of Buffalo New York just had over six feet of new snowfall in a few days.
    Now is the time, Lake Effect Snow from tiny Lake Erie has covered parts of Buffalo and Western New York State with snow.
    Now Imagine how much Ocean Effect Snow can and has and will come from thawed Polar Oceans in warmest times. Ice in and around the Arctic is replenished in warmest times with warm Gulf Stream Ocean currents powering the ice machine. During the Little Ice Age, Sea Ice kept the ice machine turned off, the Little Ice Age Ended because the Polar Ice and Ice beyond the Arctic thawed, then retreated and allowed warming into this Modern Warm Time.
    Climate Science, Peer Reviewed Consensus Climate Science, does not even have ice in their Energy Balance Diagrams. They say evaporation and snowfall is inside the greenhouse and does not deserve consideration for cooling the climate. Tell the people in Buffalo today that ice does not cool the climate. The ground will be cold, even on sunny days, until the ice thaws enough to expose the ground.
    Climate has alternating warmer and colder periods, the warmer times with thawed Arctic are the times the ice is replenished, and the spreading ice always correlates with colder times because the ice causes the colder times. This natural factor overpowers any Greenhouse influence. This lake effect snowfall only occurs when Lake Erie is Thawed, likely never happened during the Little Ice Age. They had ocean effect snow during the Little Ice Age but it came from Thawed Oceans Further South and that ice thawed in Summer. Buffalo’s ice will thaw in summer, but it will last longer than Buffalo snow that falls in colder years.

  2. Parts of Buffalo New York had over six feet of new snowfall.
    Now is the time, Lake Effect Snow from tiny Lake Erie has covered parts of Buffalo and Western New York State with snow.
    Now Imagine how much Ocean Effect Snow can and has and will come from thawed Polar Oceans in warmest times. Ice in and around the Arctic is replenished in warmest times with warm Gulf Stream Ocean currents powering the ice machine. During the Little Ice Age, Sea Ice kept the ice machine turned off, the Little Ice Age Ended because the Polar Ice and Ice beyond the Arctic thawed, then retreated and allowed warming into this Modern Warm Time.
    Climate Science, Peer Reviewed Consensus Climate Science, does not even have ice in their Energy Balance Diagrams. They say evaporation and snowfall is inside the greenhouse and does not deserve consideration for cooling the climate. Tell the people in Buffalo today that ice does not cool the climate. The ground will be cold, even on sunny days, until the ice thaws enough to expose the ground.
    Climate has alternating warmer and colder periods, the warmer times with thawed Arctic are the times the ice is replenished, and the spreading ice always correlates with colder times because the ice causes the colder times. This natural factor overpowers any Greenhouse influence. This lake effect snowfall only occurs when Lake Erie is Thawed, likely never happened during the Little Ice Age. They had ocean effect snow during the Little Ice Age but it came from Thawed Oceans Further South and that ice thawed in Summer. Buffalo’s ice will thaw in summer, but it will last longer than Buffalo snow that falls in colder years.

  3. They wrote:
    Along the equator, several islands have unusually cold water lying immediately to their west. According to Karnauskas and Giglio’s work, this cooling is the product of upwelling caused by the collision of a deep ocean current against the islands lying in its path.
    Warm tropical currents flow into polar regions where ice is dumped into the tropical turbulent salt-water currents and thawing ice chills the water to below freezing, this cold water, being denser, flows in deep cold currents back the tropics where it meets land or the cold currents from the other polar region and the cold currents must flow up, upwelling because they have nowhere else they can flow. This is how ice cools the tropics. The ice was formed when polar evaporation and IR out during warmest times promoted the sequestering of ice which did not cause cooling until many years later when the increasing depth and weight and volume of ice caused it to flow into the tropical currents. Warm times are necessary to rebuild the ice when polar oceans are thawed. Cold times result when the ice is sufficient to chill the ocean currents forming sea ice the turn off additional snowfall while the more ice chills the climate.

  4. This warm time will persist a few hundred natural warm years while polar ice is replenished, then the ice will advance fast enough to form sea ice and allow the next little ice age to chill the climate a few hundred years while the ice depletes.

    This is why there has been and why there will be natural alternating warmer and colder time periods in the future as it was in the past.

  5. stpaulchuck says:

    I live in Minnesota. I can’t really tell the difference between minus 8 and minus 10.

  6. Graeme No.3 says:

    The Cromwell Current (also called Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent) is an eastward-flowing subsurface current that extends the length of the equator in the Pacific Ocean. The Cromwell Current was discovered in 1952 by Townsend Cromwell, a researcher with the Honolulu Laboratory of the Fish and Wildlife Service
    Because the Cromwell Current is located on the equator, the Coriolis force is equal to zero and does not act upon a water parcel. The Cromwell Current is both oxygen- and nutrient-rich. Upwelling occurs near the Galapagos Islands. This brings food supplies to the surface. Upwelling, however, is a sporadic phenomenon; it fails to occur on a regular basis, and so the food supply comes and goes.
    More funds are needed for scientists to go to the Galapagos islands to study this, especially in the European winters.

  7. Gamecock says:

    ‘Does the claim here that ‘almost every part of the ocean is heating up’ stand up to scrutiny?’

    Every part of the ocean is warming twice as fast all the other parts of the ocean.

    It’s science.

  8. erl happ says:

    Upwelling/downwelling in the ocean is driven by the movement of the atmosphere. Wind velocity is dependent on contrasts in air pressure. In the winter season polar cyclones that are epicenters of uplift along the jet stream drive surface pressure downwards locally increasing surface pressure everywhere else, but especially in the mid latitudes. So, the contrast in air pressure that drives the winds and the extent of upwelling/downwelling depends on the activity of polar cyclones on the margins of Antarctica PLUS the Aleutian Low and the Icelandic Low in the Northern Hemisphere in a complex dance whereby the most potent centre of continuous year round activity is in the Southern Hemisphere but that activity is much affected by the intensity of the northern hemisphere lows.

    The Galapagos region exhibits the biggest swing in the temperature of surface waters globally but the same process that drives that swing manifests in local surface waters at all latitudes globally and is reflected in sea surface temperature anomalies on a micro scale as seen here: https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/ocean/surface/currents/overlay=sea_surface_temp_anomaly/orthographic=-256.39,-39.65,3768

    So pervasive is this influence on surface temperature anomalies in the ocean that it is reflected in the monthly average global surface temperature. That’s as expected given that the ocean amounts to 70% of the surface of the globe.

    Full explanation here: https://reality348.wordpress.com/author/erlhapp/

  9. oldbrew says:

    Major upwelling areas along the world’s coasts are highlighted in red

    Source — https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/tutorial_currents/03coastal4.html
    – – –
    ‘the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC), a cold, fast-flowing current that travels eastward about 100 meters below the surface of the Pacific Ocean’

    ‘In a separate study, Karnauskas shows that over the past few decades, the EUC has been getting stronger and deeper’

    Not seeing an explanation.

  10. oldbrew says:

    The Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent in Three Generations of Global Climate Models and Glider Observations (2020)

    Abstract
    The Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) is a vital component of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific. The details of its termination near the Galápagos Islands in the eastern Pacific have an outsized importance to regional circulation and ecosystems.

    https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2020JC016609

    From the paper: ‘The Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) is a key component of the tropical ocean circulation. Shoaling and upwelling as it flows eastward along the equator, the EUC transports cold, nutrient-rich water and releases carbon to the atmosphere’.

  11. oldbrew says:

    Published: 16 February 2016
    Mitigation of Coral Reef Warming Across the Central Pacific by the Equatorial Undercurrent: A Past and Future Divide

    https://www.nature.com/articles/srep21213

    This paper says: ‘ The same GCMs that predict enhanced warming in the tropical Pacific also project strengthening of the EUC. Because EUC velocity is linked to island SST through topographic upwelling, a future strengthening of the EUC could mitigate surface warming and associated ecosystem impacts for equatorial reefs.’

  12. oldbrew says:

    This same effect twists hurricanes anticlockwise north of the equator and clockwise south of it.

    Re the Coriolis effect: ‘the theory that the effect determines the rotation of draining water in a typical size household bathtub, sink or toilet has been repeatedly disproven by modern-day scientists; the force is negligibly small compared to the many other influences on the rotation.’

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriolis_force

    A negligibly small effect aka fictitious force or illusion (link below) twists hurricanes?

    The Coriolis effect is an “apparent” effect, an illusion produced by a rotating frame of reference. This type of effect is also known as a fictitious force or an inertial force.
    https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-the-coriolis-effect-1435315

    But the same article goes on to say:
    Another example of latitudinal variations in deflection is the formation of hurricanes. These storms don’t form within five degrees of the equator because there is not enough Coriolis rotation. Move further north and tropical storms can begin to rotate and strengthen to form hurricanes.

    So we have an illusion telling hurricanes which way to rotate? Physics needs to do better than this.

  13. Phoenix44 says:

    Or maybe the oceans are warming for some reason and that’s warming the climate. A lot more ocean with a lot more “resistance” to heating than near-Earth atmosphere.

  14. Gamecock says:

    Coriolis effect is real enough for artillerymen to include it in their calculations.

    Gamecock did some research on it a few years ago to see if it affected golf balls in flight. The answer was, “Yes.” But even on a long shot the effect was about an inch, too small to worry about.

    “This same effect twists hurricanes anticlockwise north of the equator and clockwise south of it.”

    Do southern cyclones actually occur? I’ve never heard of any.

  15. Jim says:

    Interesting. But, that guy should go back to at least sixth grade and relearn, geology. He wonders how the deep cold gets north? Ever heard of subduction trenches? What warms it to rise to the surface? A long heat trench and shallowing base. Must be a publish drivel or quit school.

  16. Damian says:

    Artillery shells trajectory is not influenced by coriolis. Between the shell being fired and hitting its target the Earth has rotated a little bit meaning the target wasn’t where it was when the shell was fired.

  17. oldbrew says:

    Earth rotates about 465 metres per second.
    https://pwg.gsfc.nasa.gov/stargaze/Srotfram1.htm
    – – –
    Southern hemisphere cyclones: Everything you need to know
    Yachting World November 11, 2019

    Meteorologist Chris Tibbs explains how Southern hemisphere cyclone systems develop and what sailors need to know about them

    https://www.yachtingworld.com/weather/southern-hemisphere-cyclones-everything-need-know-123911

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