Agulhas Current effect on European climate

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Agulhas Current effect on European climate

April 30, 2011 - 19:15
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Water currents of South Africa could stabilize climate in Europe. An international team of marine scientists studies the effects salt water from the Agulhas Current can have on global warming.

The Agulhas Current is the Western Boundary Current of the southwest Indian Ocean. It flows down the east coast of Africa from 27°S to 40°S. It is narrow, swift and strong.

The Gulf Stream which transports enormous amounts of warm tropical waters to the North Atlantic is the cause of Europe's habitable climate.

Climate predictions point to the fact that this will change in the future and affect especially the climate in countries of the Mediterranean region, with more dry spells. As global warming progresses, the North Atlantic will receive more precipitation and a greater amount of water from the melting of glaciers in Greenland, thus reducing the salinity of ocean water and weakening the Gulf Stream's effects.

Changes to a "neglected" ocean current near the southern tip of Africa could keep Europe warm even if the Gulf Stream switches off.

But a recent analysis by a group of researchers directed by Dr Rainer Zahn suggests that flows from the Indian Ocean to the South Atlantic, near the tip of Africa, also are important in relation to future current systems in the North Atlantic.

Agulhas Current, surface oceanic current that forms the western boundary current of the southern Indian Ocean. It flows southward along the southeast coast of Mozambique and the coast of South Africa before turning eastward to join the flow from Africa to Australia. A small part of Agulhas water apparently continues westward around the Cape of Good Hope into the Atlantic Ocean.

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