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The Thermohaline Ocean Circulation: A System with Dangerous Thresholds?

The Thermohaline Ocean Circulation: A System with Dangerous Thresholds? THE THERMOHALINE OCEAN CIRCULATION: A SYSTEM WITH DANGEROUS THRESHOLDS? An Editorial Comment Threatening scenarios of a breakdown of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (Figure 1), a collapse of northern European agriculture and fisheries, and of glaciers advancing on Scandinavia and Scotland have captured the popular imagination in recent years, with a number of newspaper reports, magazine articles and television documentaries covering this topic with a widely varying degree of accuracy. The risk of critical thresholds in the climate system being crossed where some irre- versible qualitative change sets in (such as a major ocean circulation change) is taken increasingly seriously in the discussion on anthropogenic climate change. While the 1995 IPCC report (Houghton et al., 1995) only mentioned it in passing, the upcoming third IPCC assessment will devote substantial space to this issue. So where do we stand scientifically? Looking at the growing number of publications on thermohaline circulation stability (reviewed e.g. by Weaver and Hughes, 1992; Rahmstorf et al., 1996) one would be forgiven to be confused, finding the model results contradictory and the data inconclusive. Nevertheless I believe that a fairly consistent picture has emerged during the past years. The first robust conclusion - taken for granted now http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Climatic Change Springer Journals

The Thermohaline Ocean Circulation: A System with Dangerous Thresholds?

Climatic Change , Volume 46 (3) – Oct 8, 2004

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References (46)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2000 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
Subject
Earth Sciences; Atmospheric Sciences; Climate Change/Climate Change Impacts
ISSN
0165-0009
eISSN
1573-1480
DOI
10.1023/A:1005648404783
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

THE THERMOHALINE OCEAN CIRCULATION: A SYSTEM WITH DANGEROUS THRESHOLDS? An Editorial Comment Threatening scenarios of a breakdown of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (Figure 1), a collapse of northern European agriculture and fisheries, and of glaciers advancing on Scandinavia and Scotland have captured the popular imagination in recent years, with a number of newspaper reports, magazine articles and television documentaries covering this topic with a widely varying degree of accuracy. The risk of critical thresholds in the climate system being crossed where some irre- versible qualitative change sets in (such as a major ocean circulation change) is taken increasingly seriously in the discussion on anthropogenic climate change. While the 1995 IPCC report (Houghton et al., 1995) only mentioned it in passing, the upcoming third IPCC assessment will devote substantial space to this issue. So where do we stand scientifically? Looking at the growing number of publications on thermohaline circulation stability (reviewed e.g. by Weaver and Hughes, 1992; Rahmstorf et al., 1996) one would be forgiven to be confused, finding the model results contradictory and the data inconclusive. Nevertheless I believe that a fairly consistent picture has emerged during the past years. The first robust conclusion - taken for granted now

Journal

Climatic ChangeSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 8, 2004

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