Gulf stream safe if wind blows and Earth turns

by William Yeatman on April 13, 2004

in Science

There has been much alarmist speculation recently that global warming could trigger the collapse of the Gulf Stream.  Carl Wunsch, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physical Oceanography at MIT, sent a letter to Nature magazine (published in the April 8 issue) stating that such a trigger effect is nearly impossible.

Wunsch wrote that, The Gulf Streams existence is a consequence of the large-scale wind system over the North Atlantic Ocean, and of the nature of fluid motion on a rotating planet.  The only way to produce an ocean circulation without a Gulf Stream is either to turn off the wind system, or to stop the Earths rotation, or both.  He added, The occurrence of a climate state without the Gulf Stream any time soon within tens of millions of years has a probability of little more than zero.  

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