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Weakening of Gulf Stream Linked To Europe's "Little Ice Age"

Climate Change Analysis
Photo: Satellite image of the 'Gulf Stream'. Credit: NASA.

Nov 29, 2006
The Gulf Stream — the ocean current that helps to bring warm weather to much of the North Atlantic region — was significantly weakened during the period known to historians as the Little Ice Age, new research reveals.The discovery supports the notion that a slowing of ocean currents — as some fear might happen in our future — can have significant consequences for climate.From around 1200 until 1850, during which average temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere dipped by around 1 °C, the strength of the Gulf Stream also slackened by up to 10%, oceanographers report.The Gulf Stream, which is part of a vast pattern of currents nicknamed the ocean conveyor belt, carries warm surface waters from the tropical Atlantic northeastwards towards Europe. The reduced flow that occurred during medieval times would have transported less heat, contributing to the icy conditions that persisted until Victorian times. Continue Story

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