North Europe cooling?

A new study in Nature shows a decided decrease in the amount of warm water going north. However, the article in Science at least has lots of caveats:

The picture is still fuzzy, however. “It would be dangerous to jump to the conclusion that there’s a persistent weakening” of the conveyor circulation, says ocean and climate modeler Richard Wood of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter, U.K. Wood, Rhines, and Bryden all worry that the near-instantaneous snapshots taken by the ocean surveys might have been misleading. Like any part of the complex climate system, the conveyor is bound to slow down at times and speed up at others. The two latest surveys, Wood says, may have happened to catch the Atlantic as the conveyor slowed temporarily, giving the impression that a permanent change had taken place.

RealClimate addresses some of the observations and some of the doubts. These include large errors in measurement and, well, North Europe has been warming.

So there may be a problem, or not. Stay tuned.

One Response to “North Europe cooling?”

  1. John says:

    I don’t think there should be any doubt that climate can change quickly, and probably has done throughout history. There was a so called “little ice age” between 1250 – 1850, in which a general cooling was interspersed with warm decades. For exmple, the 18th century had some mild decades after the cold year of 1716. After 1740, severe winters became much more common again. In Britain, frosts would begin in October and last until March with less frequent and shorter breaks than frosts now, the Thames would freeze over, sometimes for weeks at a time, and it is estimated night time temperatures in Southern Britain would dive to -15c on a reasonably regular basis. Occasionally there were snow falls into late April/ early May. Britain’s winters of the time sound comparable to those of modern day mid-Scandinavia.

    The years between 1716 and 1740, however, were generally mild, with some outsandingly warm summers and mild winters.

    Climate and climate change is not fully understood and subject to many variables, but what is clear is that it does change, and has changed quickly before. So is there a problem? regardless of what is happening to the gulf stream history suggests you should always expect the unexpected. The temperature fluctuations in the “little ice age” shortened the growing season in the UK, and undoubtedly killed many people in places like Scotland and Scandinavia.