Gulf Stream

Saturday, 20 May 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Environment
Reading Time:  5 minutes

Evolution of the Gulf Stream © ngdc.noaa.gov - RedAndr/cc-by-sa-4.0

Evolution of the Gulf Stream © ngdc.noaa.gov – RedAndr/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension the North Atlantic Drift, is a warm and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and flows through the Straits of Florida and up the eastern coastline of the United States then veers east near 36 latitude (North Carolina) and moves toward Northwest Europe as the North Atlantic Current. The process of western intensification causes the Gulf Stream to be a northwards accelerating current off the east coast of North America. At about 40°0′N 30°0′W, it splits in two, with the northern stream, the North Atlantic Drift, crossing to Northern Europe and the southern stream, the Canary Current, recirculating off West Africa.

The Gulf Stream influences the climate of the coastal areas of the east coast of the United States from Florida to southeast Virginia (near 36 north latitude), and to a greater degree, the climate of Northwest Europe. There is consensus that the climate of northwest Europe is warmer than other areas of similar latitude at least partially because of the strong North Atlantic Current. It is part of the North Atlantic Gyre. Its presence has led to the development of strong cyclones of all types, both within the atmosphere and within the ocean.

The Gulf Stream is influential on the climate of the Florida peninsula. The portion off the Florida coast, referred to as the Florida Current, maintains an average water temperature of at least 24 °C (75 °F) during the winter. East winds moving over this warm water move warm air from over the Gulf Stream inland, helping to keep temperatures milder across the state than elsewhere across the Southeastern United States during the winter. Also, the Gulf Stream’s proximity to Nantucket, Massachusetts adds to its biodiversity, because it is the northern limit for southern varieties of plant life, and the southern limit for northern plant species, Nantucket being warmer during winter than the mainland. The North Atlantic Current of the Gulf Stream, along with similar warm air currents, helps keep Ireland and the western coast of Great Britain a couple of degrees warmer than the east. However, the difference is most dramatic in the western coastal islands of Scotland. A noticeable effect of the Gulf Stream and the strong westerly winds on Europe occurs along the Norwegian coast. Northern parts of Norway lie close to the Arctic zone, most of which is covered with ice and snow in winter. However, almost all of Norway’s coast remains free of ice and snow throughout the year. The warming effect provided by the Gulf Stream has allowed fairly large settlements to be developed and maintained on the coast of Northern Norway, including Tromsø, the third largest city north of the Arctic Circle. Weather systems warmed by the Gulf Stream drift into Northern Europe, also warming the climate behind the Scandinavian mountains.

The possibility of a Gulf Stream collapse has been covered by many news publications. The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report addressed this issue specifically, and found that based on model projections and theoretical understanding, the Gulf Stream will not shut down in a warming climate. While the Gulf Stream is expected to slow down as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) weakens, it will not collapse even if the AMOC were to collapse. Nevertheless, this slowing down will have significant effects, including a rise in sea level along the North American coast, reduced precipitation in the mid-latitudes, changing patterns of strong precipitation around Europe and the tropics and stronger storms in the North Atlantic.

Read more on Wikipedia Gulf Stream (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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