First up, the Gulf Stream. A new report warns that the Atlantic Gulf Stream, so instrumental in regulating the climate of Europe and eastern North America, is at its weakest in 1,600 years and may be more unstable than we had thought.
The findings, based on multiple lines of scientific evidence, throw into question previous predictions that a catastrophic collapse of the Gulf Stream would take centuries to occur.
Such a collapse would see western Europe suffer far more extreme winters, sea levels rise fast on the eastern seaboard of the US and would disrupt vital tropical rains. The new research shows the current is now 15% weaker than around 400AD, an exceptionally large deviation, and that human-caused global warming is responsible for at least a significant part of the weakening.
The current, known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc), carries warm water northwards towards the north pole. There it cools, becomes denser and sinks, and then flows back southwards. But global warming hampers the cooling of the water, while melting ice in the Arctic, particularly from Greenland, floods the area with less dense freshwater, weakening the Amoc current.Now, remind me why we really need to flood the world market with bitumen?
“If we do not rapidly stop global warming, we must expect a further long-term slowdown of the Atlantic overturning,” said Alexander Robinson, at the University of Madrid, and one of the team that conducted the second study. He warned: “We are only beginning to understand the consequences of this unprecedented process – but they might be disruptive.”
Next Up, the Spreading Groundwater Crisis.
They've got a name for them, "Day Zero" water crises. The term denotes water scarcity so severe that it becomes possible to calculate the date on which water supply to a particular area will end. For weeks we've been watching Day Zero approach Cape Town, South Africa. New satellite data has identified dozens of other areas nearing Day Zero conditions. The most pressing problems are in
Spain, Morocco, India and Iraq.
Finally, the Miners' Canary of Climate Change.
In Britain, grocery stores are stocking British-grown asparagus again. Only this year the crop is in two weeks earlier that expected. In this case the news isn't all bad.
Per Hogberg, of grower Wealmoor, whose early crop is supplying Waitrose, said that with warmer temperatures expected, “consumers can expect a bumper crop in mid-May. We expect it to be a very good one.”