A new study by the University College London (UCL) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHO) reveals that a prime component of the global oceanic circulatory system, including the Atlantic Gulf Stream, has reached its weakest level in more than 1,600 years.
The research, published in science journal Nature, details that the circulation water in the Atlantic has been decreasing since the 1800s, more specifically by 15 percent since 1950. Man-made greenhouse gas emissions are primarily to blame, Caribbean News Now reports.
"The evidence we're now able to provide is the most robust to date," said Professor Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute, who conceived the research project. "We've analysed all the available sea surface temperature datasets, comprising data from the late 19th century until the present."
Peter Spooner, one of the research authors from UCL, reiterated that while the weakening of the stream may have started naturally, climate change associated with man-made greenhhouse gas emissions has played a major role.
"This circulation is a key player in the Earth's climate system and a large or abrupt slowdown could have global repercussions," Spooner said. "It could cause sea levels on the U.S. east coast to rise, alter European weather patterns or rain patterns more globally, and hurt marine wildlife."
The dramatic decrease in the Gulf Stream flowing from the Atlantic into the Caribbean, a phenomenon attributed to climate change and Arctic melting, will probably result in more erratic weather events and coastal erosion.