Tag: National Oceanography Centre

Climate: New effort launched to monitor ocean currents

Researchers eye global warming impacts to North Atlantic region

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Ocean currents help shape global climate, and understanding how global warming may change those currents will inform more accurate climate projections.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Some of the biggest potential global warming impacts could occur if major ocean currents change in strength or direction — a shift in the Gulf Stream, for example, would have major implications for parts of northwestern Europe, kept temperate by the transport of subtropical water.

Some research has suggested that increasing amounts of cold, fresh water in the North Atlantic could have a big impact on the Gulf Stream and other important currents, but there’s not a lot of detailed historic or baseline data against which to measure changes. But that could change in the next few years, as science agencies in the U.S. and the U.K. team up on a $70 million project to study North Atlantic currents. Continue reading “Climate: New effort launched to monitor ocean currents”

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European forecasters look to NAO for climate clues

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Seasonal shifts in the North Atlantic Oscillation have a strong effect on European weather.

New study helps track seasonal shifts in North Atlantic storm track

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Just as weather forecasters in the western U.S. look at El Niño and La Niña to help get a handle on season outlooks, European meteorologists are carefully analyzing the North Atlantic Oscillation for climate clues. The job is easier in some years, according to a new study carried out by the National Oceanography Centre.

The research shwoed that the relationship between our winter weather and the strength of the airflow coming in from the Atlantic – one of the factors used by forecasters to predict the weather – is stronger in some years than others. The results were recently published in the Royal Meteorological Society publication Weather.

“There are two major atmospheric pressure systems centred around Iceland and the Azores that are very influential for the weather in Europe. Air flows between these two systems, bringing mild air from the North Atlantic to Europe,” said co-authors Joël Hirschi and Bablu Sinha from the National Oceanography Centre. Continue reading “European forecasters look to NAO for climate clues”

Antarctica subglacial lake drilling project halted

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A pair of British Antarctic Survey researchers work at the Lake Ellsworth exploratory site. Photo courtesy BAS.

British Antarctic Survey research team encounters unexpected technical difficulties

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — An ambitious mission to unlock the secrets of Antarctica’s subglacial Lake Ellsworth was called of Christmas Day, as the research team encountered unexpected challenges in their quest to explore a mysterious environment that could hold important climate clues.

“On Christmas Eve we took the decision to cease our efforts to directly measure and sample Subglacial Lake Ellsworth,” said lead researcher Prof. Martin Siegert. “Although circumstances have not worked out as we would have wished, I am confident that through the huge efforts of the field team, and our colleagues in the UK, we have done as much as we possibly could have done, and I sincerely thank them all. I am also hugely grateful to the UK Natural Environment Research Council for making it possible for us to attempt the direct exploration of subglacial Antarctica,” Siegert said. Continue reading “Antarctica subglacial lake drilling project halted”

Global warming: New study tries to pin down the effects of ocean acidification on shellfish

New study tries to pinpoint impacts of ocean acidification on shellfish.

Cold-water species hit hardest by increased levels of carbon dioxide

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The effects of ocean acidification on shellfish are widespread around the globe and may be the most pronounced at high latitudes with low water temperatures, according to new research that examined a wide range of species from the tropics to the Arctic.

But there is some evidence that, with enough time, shellfish and other marine organisms may be able to adapt to the changes caused by global warming, according to the study published this week in the journal Global Change Biology.

“In areas of the world’s oceans where it is hardest for marine creatures to make their limestone shell or skeleton, shellfish and other animals have adapted to natural environments where seawater chemistry makes shell-building materials difficult to obtain,” said Dr .Sue-Ann Watson, formerly of the University of Southampton and British Antarctic Survey (now at James Cook University) said. “Evolution has allowed shellfish to exist in these areas and, given enough time and a slow enough rate of change, evolution may again help these animals survive in our acidifying oceans.” Continue reading “Global warming: New study tries to pin down the effects of ocean acidification on shellfish”

Antarctica: King crab invasion?

Just slight warming in the Southern Ocean could enable king crabs to colonize new territory, with unknown consequences for existing ecoystems. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Warming ocean temps threaten could ecoystem stability

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Just a small shift in temperatures in the Southern Ocean could enable king crabs to spread to Antarctica’s continental shelf and threaten existing ecosystems that aren’t equipped to deal with the voracious predators.

Crabs are cold-blooded, so their body temperature is largely determined by the surrounding environment. The crabs live mostly in cold, deep-sea habitats, but experiments have shown their larvae fail to mature in water temperatures below around half a degree Celsius, even after only brief exposure. Continue reading “Antarctica: King crab invasion?”