Thermohaline circulation

Thermohaline CirculationThermohaline Circulation is a fancy term but it is an important factor in the climate of the earth. The basic ideas is that the oceans of world circulate water in relatively stable patterns and this movement of water dramatically affects the weather.

These patterns can be disrupted by a number of factors and such events seem to be related to large weather change in previous time periods. Cold water from the polar regions moves into warmer areas causing cooling while hotter water from equatorial regions moves to the poles in a warming pattern.

This movement is created by wind on the surface and differences in salinity and temperature below the surface at depth. Tides also play a role in certain places of the world. There is a lot of technical type information about salinity, temperature, tides, and wind but I don’t want to get into that. I simply want to suggest that this global movement of water is a fact and it has a profound effect on our climate.

It sends warm water to the poles which has a tremendous effect on melting sea ice and it is a component in the oceanic sink which removes a large percentages of CO2 from the atmosphere. The amount this affects removal of CO2 is not fully understood at this stage. I spoke about Greenhouse Gases and the importance of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere yesterday. The effect of water temperature on weather patterns is clear to anyone who has lived near a large body of water. Again, I don’t want to get all technical on that topic.

It is thought that Ice Ages are counter intuitively related to warmer temperatures because the influx of fresh water from glacial melt stops the flow of warm water to the poles which causes fast drops in temperature.

The main idea though is that if there is an influx of fresh water from melting ice that this thermohaline circulation will be disrupted and have a dramatic effect on our climate.

Again, I’m not trying to argue for or against human influenced climate change … yet. I’m just talking about the dynamics involved and hopefully the next time you discuss this highly volatile topic you’ll be slightly better informed.

Tell me what you think!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist