(Jun 15, 2007)

Scientists study climate change and the Gulf stream

By Karl Ritter
From AP

He calls the Gulf Stream effect a myth, and claims the prevailing wind patterns have a much bigger role in explaining why Europe is several degrees warmer in winter than the equivalent latitudes in North America.

''The amount of warming that the current gives _ only about 2-3 degrees over land on either side _ is really small compared to the temperature difference between those regions, which is more like 15 to 20 centigrade in winter,'' he said. ''So no one should ever confuse that temperature difference between the two regions as being in any way caused by the movement of heat by the Gulf Stream.''

Uncertainty also surrounds future climate predictions, primarily because little is known about how fast the Greenland ice cap will melt, and exactly how that will affect oceanic circulation.

Drange played down the possibility of a massive influx of freshwater disrupting the mechanism that drives ocean circulation.

''There is no indication that this is happening now and we don't expect it will happen in this century,'' he said.

Faeroese fishermen are less sure. Jogvan Trondarson, a veteran shrimper, said he's seeing more and bigger icebergs off Greenland's eastern coast than 20 years ago, and believes they could be a sign the ice sheet is melting faster.

Off the west coast of the giant island, the sea ice has crept back by 120 miles, and storms have gotten stronger and more persistent on both sides, he said.

''For me it's facts,'' said Trondarson, tapping his pen on a rough map of Greenland.

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