Heating up the Abyss

 A study conducted by the University of Utah suggests that periodic changes in winds 15 to 30 miles high in the stratosphere influence the seas by striking an “Achilles heel”, or a vulnerable spot in the North Atlantic Ocean.  This exposure to the suns heat changes mile-deep ocean circulation patterns, which in turn affect Earth’s climate.

It has been long known that changes in the stratosphere (6-30 miles above Earth’s surface) will effect what happens below, in the troposphere (the atmosphere responsible for weather changes).  It is also known that changes in the ocean’s temperatures and salinity will also effect the climate of the earth.

Changes in speed and direction of a Polar Vortex above the North pole open up a hole in the stratosphere for up to 60 days, long enough for the changes to be seen at oceanic levels.  This area of the ocean is extremely important in regulating ocean circulation throughout the world.  Because the water at this pole can get so cold and saline, it will begin to sink (a process known as ‘downwelling‘) and drive oceanic currents.

“This area where downwelling occurs is quite susceptible to cooling or warming from the troposphere. If the water is close to becoming heavy enough to sink, then even small additional amounts of heating or cooling from the atmosphere may be imported to the ocean and either trigger downwelling events or delay them.”



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