Ice Age! Because of Global Warming!!!

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The ocean current that gives western Europe its relatively balmy climate is stuttering, raising fears that it might fail entirely and plunge the continent into a mini ice age.

The dramatic finding comes from a study of ocean circulation in the North Atlantic, which found a 30% reduction in the warm currents that carry water north from the Gulf Stream.

The slow-down, which has long been predicted as a possible consequence of global warming…

Woah whoa whoa… I had to stop reading at this point.

WHAT?! Global warming causes ice ages?! Do they read what they write before they print it?

Of course, the science is fascinating. Briefly, there is a current that runs along the North Atlantic that terminates in Greenland. As it cools (and ice forms), it descends, and follows a path back to the tropics, where the cycle starts anew. The trick is the saline content in the water — as ice forms in the north, the salt is carried back to the tropics, and the fluxuating salinity of the water affects the current.

At least the end of the article brings some sanity back to the conversation:

Nobody is clear on what has gone wrong. Suggestions for blame include the melting of sea ice or increased flow from Siberian rivers into the Arctic. Both would load fresh water into the surface ocean, making it less dense and so preventing it from sinking, which in turn would slow the flow of tropical water from the south. And either could be triggered by man-made climate change. Some climate models predict that global warming could lead to such a shutdown later this century.

The last shutdown, which prompted a temperature drop of 5°C to 10°C in western Europe, was probably at the end of the last ice age, 12,000 years ago. There may also have been a slowing of Atlantic circulation during the Little Ice Age, which lasted sporadically from 1300 to about 1850 and created temperatures low enough to freeze the River Thames in London.

All that global warming in the 1300s must have really messed up our delicate environment…

Pfft.

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