From: Scott Sincoff, ENN
Published September 23, 2012 08:11 PM

Researchers Suggest Stratosphere Affects Deep Seas

According to a new study, periodic changes in winds 15-to-30 miles above the surface can severely impact the Earth’s climate. The research from the University of Utah suggests that the wind changes in the stratosphere can change mile-deep ocean circulation patterns in addition to influencing the seas in the North Atlantic Ocean.



The research team led by Professor Thomas Reichler stated that they knew that what happened in the stratosphere affects the action going on in the troposphere, up to six miles above the Earth. In the study, the team also noted that they were aware of the global circulation patterns in the oceans. Reichler said that the patterns caused by variations in saltiness and water temperature impacted the climate on a global basis.

"It is not new that the stratosphere impacts the troposphere," said Reichler. "It also is not new that the troposphere impacts the ocean. But now we actually demonstrated an entire link between the stratosphere, the troposphere and the ocean."

Using weather observations and 4,000 years of supercomputer weather simulations, Reichler and his team showed a connection between the polar vortex (changes in stratospheric wind patterns) and changes in the deep sea movement patterns.
Of the changes in the deep sea movement patterns, one significant change occurs during stratospheric sudden warming events. These events happen when temperatures rise and when polar vortex winds above 80 miles per hour weaken or change direction while circling the Arctic region. Lasting for a period up to 60 days, these winds have the ability to extend from 15 miles up in the stratosphere to 30 miles above the surface, going past the stratosphere's plateau. Another change includes the differing speeds of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which in turn, operates as an assembly line moving water throughout the Earth. Reichler said that using these changes and the decade-scale effect, are important for creating computer models of decade-to-decade forecasts so that the changes are distinct from global warming.

"If we as humans modify the stratosphere, it may – through the chain of events we demonstrate in this study – also impact the ocean circulation," said Reichler. "Good examples of how we modify the stratosphere are the ozone hole and also fossil-fuel burning that adds carbon dioxide to the stratosphere. These changes to the stratosphere can alter the ocean, and any change to the ocean is extremely important to global climate."

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