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Gulf Stream Myths

(originally published on 18 March 2007 as “Gulf Stream Myths“. Click here for the March 2008 update “Gulf Stream Myths (2)“.)

Myth #1: The Gulf Stream will fail if a massive outpour of freshwater will come out of Greenland glaciers due to increasing temperatures.

Answer: No, it most definitely will not. As explained by Carl Wunsch, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physical Oceanography at the MIT in Cambridge, Mass. (USA), in a letter published on The Economist:

The Gulf Stream is a wind-driven phenomenon (as explained in a famous 1948 paper by Henry Stommel). […] Shut-off would imply repeal of the law of conservation of angular momentum […] focusing on near-impossible Gulf Stream failure is an unproductive distraction

Myth #2: The Gulf Stream is responsible for the milder weather in the United Kingdom and part of Northern Europe than North American regions at similar latitudes.

Answer: No, it most definitely does not. As explained by Richard Seager, Senior Research Scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in an article published on American Scientist:

That the Gulf Stream is responsible for Europe’s mild winters is […] nothing more than the earth-science equivalent of an urban legend.


Seager’s comments are particularly telling on how current Climatology is self-destroying by way of catastrophism:

Pretty much everything we had found could have been concluded on the basis of results that were already available […]

All Battisti and I did was put these pieces of evidence together and add in a few more illustrative numerical experiments. Why hadn’t anyone done that before? […] The blame lies with modern-day climate scientists who either continue to promulgate the Gulf Stream-climate myth or who decline to clarify the relative roles of atmosphere and ocean in determining European climate. This abdication of responsibility leaves decades of folk wisdom unchallenged, still dominating the front pages, airwaves and Internet, ensuring that a well-worn piece of climatological nonsense will be passed down to yet another generation.

  1. 2008/03/22 at 16:45

    RE: omnologos (20:27:57) :
    YOU MAY KNOW: Due to the Gulf Stream, high in the North Atlantic, at Spitsbergen, a climate revolution took place 90 years ago. Over a very short period of time, from the winter of 1915/16 to the winter of 1921/22, winter temperatures had risen by about 10ºC, never coming back to pre 1918/19 level, but increasing at a lower level until ca. 1940. One of the first scientists who highlighted the extraordinary temperature development at the ‘Green Harbour’ Spitsbergen station was the Norwegian scientist B.J.Birkeland, in 1930 . He was very surprised of what he discovered. He finishes his brief essay with this statement: “In conclusion I would like to stress that the mean deviation results in very high figures, probably the greatest yet known on earth”.
    According Brooks (1938): The Spitsbergen branch of the North Atlantic Current has greatly increased in strength and the surface layer of cold water in the Arctic Ocean has decreased in thickness from 200 to 100 metres.
    Further details at: http://www.arctic-warming.com/cp.php

  2. 2008/03/21 at 20:27


    I am sure you’re aware both of your claims are far outside present understanding of oceanic currents, and the weather.

  3. 2008/03/21 at 16:47

    (1) The claim that the Gulf Stream is wind driven is weak: Even wind with hurricane force does not have any direct effect lower than 50 metres below the sea surface.
    (2) The claim that the Gulf Stream does not provide milder weather to Northern Europe than North American regions at similar latitudes can easily be dismissed by comparing summer and winter temperatures, and when paying attention to the extraordinary Arctic Warming from winter 1918/19 to winter 1939/40, as explained at: http://www.arctic-warming.com

  1. 2008/03/14 at 10:42

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