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Gulf Stream current at its weakest in 1600 years

Gulf Stream (in red); cold water in blueGulf Stream (in red); cold water in blueThe Gulf Stream, the ocean current that brings warm temperatures and mild climates to northwestern Europe, is slowing down. New research shows that the current is now 15% weaker than in it was in around 400 AD. It also reveals that much of the weakening has taken place since 1850 and the beginning of industrialization, strongly indicating that human-caused global warming, through the burning of fossil fuels, is the culprit. If the Gulf Stream were to be disrupted, there would be severe consequences for the climates of British Isles, France and the Nordic countries.

Palm trees in Scotland's mild climate (Vicky Brock)Palm trees in Scotland's mild climate (Vicky Brock)The Gulf Stream is a warm Atlantic Ocean current. It originates in the Gulf of Mexico and flows northeastwards, following the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before heading out across the Atlantic Ocean. There it splits in two: the Canary Current turns south while the North Atlantic Drift streams towards Europe. The current splits again, with one branch, the Norwegian current, flowing past Scotland and up the Norwegian coast. The Gulf Stream brings warmer temperatures to these lands than would otherwise be the case at these high latitudes. 

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