A new study has discovered that the Gulf Stream has become weakest in the last 1600 years of its study.
Gulf Stream is a major component of Atlantic Ocean and has a major role in redistributing heat throughout the planet.
The researchers have said that the weakening is likely related to human-caused climate change.
Researchers mainly used proxy data from ice cores, corals, oceanic sediments and data from ship logs to reconstruct flow and structure of Gulf Stream.
They identified consistent evidence that indicated slowdown of current in the 20th century is highest in the past millennium.
The result found that the current was relatively stable until the 19th century but began to rise after 1850’s. The decline was not drastic at the start but worsened in mid-20th century.
The global warming is assumed to be the reason behind the decline. Due to excessive warming events, the synchronised events of Gulf Stream have been disturbed. It has resulted in non-uniform heating and cooling cycles.
The Gulf Stream System may weaken further by 34 to 45% by 2100. This may bring us close to the tipping point.
Functions of Gulf Stream
The Gulf Stream is known through its official name as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).
It helps in movement of heat around the earth. The giant ocean circulation has large influence on the climate of North America from Florida to Newfoundland, and the west coast of Europe.
The Gulf Stream carries warm surface water from the equator towards north and sends cold saline underwater back towards the equator.
The Gulf Stream is expected to further weaken in the next 20-30 years. It will influence the weather of our planet and cause rise in storms and heatwaves in Europe. It can also raise the sea level across US coast.