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The Gulf Stream Explained

The Gulf Stream Explained


The ocean conveyor belt and
the Gulf Stream. Ocean currents have a direct
influence on our lives. They determine our weather, our
climate, and much more. The ocean currents and wind systems transport heat from the equator
to the poles and operate like a large engine
for the global climate. In the oceans, there are numerous
currents. The so-called ocean conveyor belt
is very important for our climate. This term describes a combination
of currents that result in four of the five global
oceans exchanging water with each other. They form a worldwide circulation system. The conveyor belt is also called the
thermohaline circulation, with “thermo” referring to
the temperature, and “haline” to the salt content
of the water. Both determine the density of the water. While the masses of water may be
moved in part by wind, primarily the different densities
of the global oceans are responsible for their movement. Warm water has a lower density and rises
while cold water sinks. The water’s density also increases with
a higher salt content. At the equator the heat from the
sun is especially strong, resulting in a lot of evaporation and
thus a rise in the water’s salt content. That is where the Gulf Stream begins. The Gulf Stream is very important
for the European climate. Its length of 10,000 km makes it one of
the largest and fastest currents on Earth, and it’s very warm. At roughly 2 m/s it brings up to
100,000,000 m³ of water per second towards Europe. A constantly blowing wind, the
southeast trade wind, drives warm surface water to
the northwest, into the Gulf of Mexico, where it heats up
to 30 °C. The turning of the Earth and the
west winds then direct the Gulf Stream towards Europe
and split it up. One part flows south, another east
to the Canary Current, and a third part flows north where
it releases a lot of heat into the atmosphere as the
North Atlantic Current. The water becomes colder there. Its salt content and density rise on
the account of evaporation and it drops down between
Greenland, Norway, and Iceland. There we also find the largest
waterfall on Earth. The so-called Chimneys, roughly 15-km-wide
pillars with water falling up to 4,000 m. 17,000,000 m³ of water per second, or
roughly 15 times more water than is carried by all the rivers in the world. This creates a strong maelstrom, which
constantly pulls in new water and is the reason that the Gulf Stream
moves towards Europe. Countless species use the Gulf Stream as a
means of transport on their trips from the Caribbean to northern areas. But it doesn’t just bring us animals; an enormous quantity of warm air also
comes with it. In order to produce the same heat that it
brings to the shores of Europe, we would need 1,000,000 nuclear
power plants. That’s why we also call the Gulf Stream
a heat pump. Without it, the temperature would
be significantly colder here, at least five to ten degrees. Instead of lush fields, we would have
long winters and sparse ice-covered landscapes in Europe. In the last few years, scientists and
pundits in the media have repeatedly expressed the fear that the Gulf Stream
could come to a standstill due to climate change. Because if the polar caps actually melt,
the salt content in the water off Greenland would fall, as would
its density. The North Atlantic Current would no longer
be heavy enough, and so it woundn’t sink as usual. In the worst case, that would bring the
Gulf Stream, our heat pump, to a stop. Some climate experts also assume that
climate change could compensate for this effect. We know that it can be normal for the
climate to change by looking at the development of the Earth
over the last few million years. There are ice ages and warm periods. In the last ice age, a gigantic flood of
melting water crippled the heat-bringing North Atlantic Current,
covering the northern hemisphere in ice. Scientists have different views on the
impact that climate change will have on the global ocean conveyor belt, but
one thing is clear: when the climate changes, then the complex
system of ocean currents and winds, which has remained fairly stable since the
last ice age, will change in ways that we don’t
yet understand. Subtitles by the Amara.org community


Reader Comments

  1. Τα ΠΑΝΤΑ ρεί.Είναι παράλογο να υποθέτουμε ότι η αδυναμία μας να κατανοήσουμε την φύση,κ ως εκ τούτου να την προβλέπουμε,μας καθιστά ανίκανους.Ο άνθρωπος πάντα έβρισκε τρόπους να "κατασκευάσει" το περιβάλλον προς οφελός του.Με την γνώση ότι η αλλαγές δεν είναι ακαριαίες,η προσαρμογή δεν είναι πρόβλημα.Πρόβλημα μπορεί να δημιουργηθεί,αν η αντιμετώπιση των αλλαγών γίνει,με κριτήρια κ προτεραιότητες οικονομικές.Κ δυστυχώς έχουμε γίνει πολύ καλή στο να μετράμε τα πάντα,με μονάδα μέτρησης το χρήμα…!!,

  2. I have this Question in my homework and I can't do it:
    "Redraft bullet points to demonstrate how the river Thames froze over in the past. Start with 1) A big ice dam in north America released fresh water into…"
    It is confusing because as long as I know, the UK is nice and worm due to the conveyor belt and the gulf stream. But is says how did river Thames froze, I hope someone help me with it!!

  3. Do you think that an international demonstration like the "international strike for future" could make people realised that it's time for everybody to change their way of life ? How could we react against global warming ? What solutions could we propose to governments ?

  4. Our upcoming video is about crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas on our sailboat on our way from the US back to Australia – I wish that we had watched this video first!!

  5. I'm watching Kurzgesgt's old videos and it is fun to see how much their animation style has improved over the years. But these oldies are still good!

  6. Global temperature up >
    Global conveyor slowing >
    North hemisphere become colder >
    Global temperature down >
    Global conveyor become fast >
    North hemisphere warming >
    Global temperature up >
    Global conveyor slowing >
    When can I stop? Lol

    Just joking don't take it seriously

  7. I wonder what life is like for the 545 inbred incel troglodytes who gave this video the thumbs down…. it certainly must be miserable for them.

  8. at 1:25 a rise in salt content? did he meant to say a rise in the salt concentration (due to water evaporation and salt content staying the same)?

  9. So, saltier water is denser than less salty water… and the very salty Gulf Stream stops because it won't fall when the ice caps melt more and cause the surrounding water to become less salty?
    Did I understand what they said correctly?

  10. Im doing a project in college, in which Im making an engine using the thermohaline circulation as inspiration. And from this, Ive found one problem: the circulation system doesn't work as an engine, it works as a heat exchanger… the difference may not matter to the lay man, but still…

  11. Sorry scientists, I have a hard time believing in all of this.
    How is it possible to track this currents in the first place.
    Seriously. How? In this large scale.
    You just made a pretty videos with arrows pointing the currents …

    I just watched a documentary on Netflix, which claims, millions of pounds of sand travel thousands of kilometers through air, from Africa to the amazon.

    I don’t believe that either.

  12. That was super useful! Just one thing: 2:26 the salt content doesn't rise by water evaporating (it's way to cold for that) but by water turning into ice which increase the concentration of salt in the water. It also increase in density turning into colder water as explained at the beginning of the video.

  13. I’ve always thought that anything man can create or build, mother nature can easily destroy. Take for example modern dams that keep millions of gallons of water from traveling downstream. It’s a great marvel that humans have created, but again, a flood, an earthquake, or a change in the composition of the soil can destroy a dam’s power to hold water back very, very quickly. It’s the same with the use of fossil fuels used to power almost anything in the world, but if we push too far, nature can easily push back and obliterate anything humans worked so hard to create.

  14. Since the heat pump ocean current is moving past the faster melting ice, isn't the extra un-salty water moved right along with it to all the ocean currents and mixed in throughout the whole world only to get salty at the equator again ? Just sayin.

  15. This is totally wrong!!
    The reason NY is colder than Europe at the same latitude has nothing to do with Gulf Stream but with the fact that in the northern hemisphere, the wind blows from West to East and NY is at the Eastern part of the USA which means in winter the air blows from Western USA to Eastern USA and as it does, it cools off and reaches NY much colder than on the Western side of the USA, where temperatures are similar to Western Europe.
    Why do you think the coldest winter temperatures are in Eastern Siberia? Its again because the whole Asian continent cools off in winter and the air goes from West to East and when it reaches Eastern Siberia is at its coldest.
    Similarly in summer, because the USA warms up, the East part of the USA is warmer than the Western USA.
    Gulf Stream does absolutely nothing! Its a myth !!

  16. I thought the main function of the ocean’s conveyor belt was to spread all of the plastic trash and nets all over the ocean creating a mine field for all marine life?

  17. Strong gulfstream = lots of warm water transport to greenland. = icemelt = over time lower salinity = weaker gulfstream = ice growth = paris climate accord being a big fat hoax.

  18. While the Gulf stream does add up to 5C heat to Europe and particularly the British isles, it's the warm winds that blow from the gulf that is the real heater , adding up to 15c. So, if the Gulf stopped Britain would have colder winters, but on;y by 5c, which wouldn't be catastrophic

  19. I would love to watch a remake of this video! longer and covering all the interactions with each current, what theyre called, what causes them, what happens when two meet, etcetc instead of just the gulf stream, even if it has to be cut into multiple parts, its very interesting and there isnt that much information about it, even less laid out in laymans terms, thanks!

  20. The currents can’t stop they are driven by the rotation of the earth and the gravitational force of the poles. They would be affected by global warming redirect or slowdown but not stop. Right?

  21. The midrange will flux wide or narrow, but Coriolis effect that creates the pump is driven by larger yet forces. Gravity and electrostatic pressure interfacing with the thermodynamic mass causes the (coastal/marine – shallow/deep – hot/cold pump. There are major assumptions being made without straightforward modeling data that is easily demonstrated by interdiciplinary physicians.
    So as I see it, this fearmongering by the Leftists like all other mongered up scientific studies, assumes much outside of reason, evidence, and demonstrable example. Other that skewed anecdotes, group think, and extreme confirmation bias blindness there is no there, there.
    This is a perfect opportunity to show the collapse of scientific sophistry and the mathematical return to replicable example.
    Also, re-understanding the heart pump will assist our cleanup/ filtering efforts to focus valuable resources exactly where the maximum benefit can be achieved.

  22. I'm,,, it's straight-up not call the Chimneys?? I don't know where you got that name- it's called the Denmark Strait Cataract… I just,, I don't get where you even began to come by such misinformation…

  23. Thank you for sharing this brilliant video with the world. It’s refreshing to see a Non-US centric video – and although I’m American- it is nice to see the impact on other players of this global event and what global warming means to others besides ourselves. Thank you! On this note, have you a recommendation of where I could find video or reports of the Ice melting in Antarctica and where these currents would take these pieces of floating land masses ? Thank you!

  24. Something's not adding up in this video. When it gets to the arctic the salt content increases? With the melting ice of the arctic shouldn't it decrease? After all the arctic ice is fresh water. Melt an ice cube into a glass of salt water and the salt water gets diluted (less salty). Therefore, logically speaking, if there was no melting ice to dilute the water and the planet is now warmer, more water should evaporate and the ocean would become even more salty. This would in turn make more water sink even faster thus speeding up the global conveyor, not stopping it. What am I missing?

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