Mysterious cold blob forms in North Atlantic Ocean and worries scientists

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Why is this spot getting colder while the rest of the world gets hotter?

There is a mysterious cold blob forming in the in the North Atlantic Ocean, near Greenland, that worries scientists… Here’s why.

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January–August 2015 Blended Land and Sea Surface Temperature Percentiles. Photo: NOAA

Going back to 1880, the first eight months of 2015 were the hottest such stretch ever recorded for the globe’s surface land and oceans. A record-breaking year.

However, in the North Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland and Iceland, a small spot has only seen record cold temperatures for the past eight months… And in order for a grid box to be “eligible” for that map, it needs at least 80 years of Jan-Aug values on the record.

What’s up with this weather anomaly?

Scientists fear that the cooling seen in these maps represents the slowing of Atlantic Ocean circulation. Or, in other words, that the gigantic ocean current known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, is weakening.

As explained by The Washington Post[…] The current is driven by differences in the temperature and salinity of ocean water (for a more thorough explanation, see here). In essence, cold salty water in the North Atlantic sinks because it is more dense, and warmer water from farther south moves northward to take its place, carrying tremendous heat energy along the way. But a large injection of cold, fresh water can, theoretically, mess it all up — preventing the sinking that would otherwise occur and, thus, weakening the circulation. […]

Consequences of the weakening?

This anomalous blob of cold water in the North Atlantic Ocean thus represents the weakening of the ocean “conveyor belt” circulation pattern.

The stunning coincidence of a record-hot planet Earth and the record-cold northern Atlantic is just another evidence that the Gulf Stream System declines.

Meanwhile, Iceland recorded its coldest summer since 1992.

Is this the end of times? If the trend continues, there could be many consequences, including rising seas for the U.S. East Coast and, possibly, a difference in temperature overall in the North Atlantic and Europe.

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