Atlantic Ocean currents were faster at the last Ice Age compared to now

New information has revealed that contrary to long-held beliefs, the movements of heat currents in oceans were much stronger then than today. International researchers at Heidelberg University, led by their renowned environmental physicists, made the startling discovery. The researchers used super-accurate methodologies to precisely measure radionuclides in sea sediments. This revealed the ocean’s current power and revealed new facts regarding previous sources of Atlantic heat currents. The test results, which also have the distinct advantage of having correctly predicted climate models, have been included in the journal of Nature Geoscience.

Because of the presence of the Gulf current and its components in the north, it is significantly hotter in the Gulf area than in North America, although they both lie on the same latitudes. If the ocean had no heat currents comparable to one million big power stations, Northern and Western European temperatures would be lower by a larger degree. Jorg Lippold lead the study. The heating system in Europe has its origins somewhere in the Mexican gulf. Here, because of the Earth’s rotation and the wind movement, the waters are warm. As the water on the surface drops in temperature and grows denser, it sinks to the bottom the ocean and flows south again.

The breakthrough in determining quantitatively, came from studying two representative parts from the core samples of deep sea sediment. These representatives which are byproducts of uranium and are readily available in ocean water. The two elements were thorium and protactinium. Of the two isotopes, thorium is deposited right into the sediment whereas protactinium transported with the current of the deep sea water. The proportion to which the two isotopes are present in the sediment reflects how strong the circulation is. At the Ice Age of approximately 20 thousand years ago, there was less protactinium-231. That there was significantly less protactinium in the ocean points to increased circulation in the Atlantic.

Getting to grips with the fact that there was more circulation in the Atlantic at the previous Ice Age is significant for models which are being used to determine future state of the world’s climate. In general, the accuracy of predicting future climatic patterns is assessed particularly by their ability to correctly represent climate from the past. The oceans hold the secrets to the Earth’s climate. This is so, because the oceans hold 50 times more carbon dioxide than the earth, as well as a thousand as much heat capability. The rapid circulation of the ocean could help reduce CO2 by extracting it from the atmosphere and storing it.

These facts bring a better understanding of climate in Europe and other parts of the globe. Any disturbance of the water, which could in turn lead to the water levels dropping could significantly weaken the heat pump. While it could lead to cooling in Europe, the reverse would take place in other parts of the world. The study was primarily based on collecting readings using very precise measuring instruments. These were able to measure concentrations of only down to a few picograms.