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Major Ocean Current Is Expanding -- Is It Bad for Climate Change?

Nov 11, 2016 04:10 AM EST
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A new research has shown that a major ocean's current is expanding because of global warming. According to the study conducted by researchers from University of Miami, the Indian Ocean's Agulhas Current is getting wider rather than strengthening.

The Agulhas Current, according to Ruf.Edu, is the second swiftest current in all the world's oceans. Agulhas which travels between Madagascar and Mozambique is deadlier than the swiftest current (the Gulf Stream) because the Gulf Stream moves through open waters of the Atlantic.

With its large size and depth, Agulhas transports warm, salty water away from the tropics. It influences not only on the regional climate of Africa, but the global as well, NDTV reported.

Findings revealed that intensifying winds in the region may be mounting the turbulence of the current, rather than its flow rate.

Using measurements collected during three scientific cruises to the Agulhas Current, the researchers found out that Agulhas has been like this since the early 1990s. Is it bad? According to Lisa Beal, a UM Rosenstiel School professor of ocean sciences and lead author of the study, these changes may directly affect the future of climate change.

"Changes in western boundary currents could exacerbate or mitigate future climate change," she said in a press release. "Currently, western boundary current regions are warming at three times the rate of the rest of the world ocean and our research suggests this may be related to a broadening of these current systems."

Previous studies have suggested that the atmospheric conditions such as the intensifying winds and accelerated warming rates are brought by man-made climate change.

"Increased eddying and meandering could act to decrease poleward heat transport, while increasing coastal upwelling and the exchange of pollutants and larvae across the current from the coast to the open ocean," co-author Shane Elipot, a UM Rosenstiel School associate scientist said.

Monitoring systems in Miami have detected a slow down in the warm ocean currents. The slow down is linked to Agulhas Current and other currents in the tips of Africa. The study was published November 9, in the Advance Online Publication of the journal Nature.

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