An armada of robot submarines and marine sensors are to be deployed across the Atlantic, from Florida to the Canary Islands, to provide early warning that the Gulf Stream might be failing, an event that would trigger cataclysmic freezing in Britain for decades.
The £16m system, called Rapid Watch, will use the latest underwater monitoring techniques to check whether cold water pouring south from melting Arctic ice sheets is diverting the current's warm waters away from Britain.
Without the Gulf Stream, the UK would be as cold as Canada in winter. Ports could freeze over and snowstorms and blizzards would paralyse the country. An extreme version of this meteorological mayhem provided the film The Day After Tomorrow with its plotline. . . .
The Gulf Stream starts in the Gulf of Mexico and follows the eastern US seaboard before crossing the Atlantic towards western Europe. The heat it brings across the Atlantic gives Britain its temperate climate. The former chief scientist, Sir Robert May, once calculated that the Gulf Stream delivered 27,000 times the warmth that all Britain's power stations are capable of supplying.
But scientists have recently warned that the current is threatened by meltwater from Greenland and the Arctic. As global warming takes a grip, glaciers and ice sheets are disappearing faster and faster. This could bring major cooling to western Europe. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned last year, the Gulf Stream is particularly warm and salty, and increasing amounts of fresh water pouring into it from the Arctic are likely to disrupt it. . . .
Saturday, January 19, 2008
'Ocean floor sensors will warn of failing Gulf Stream'
"UK will be in a deep freeze if the current strays." From The Guardian.
Posted by the blogger at 10:15 PM