This thread may only be of interest to me (and possibly Clydey) but I thought it might be fun to have a science thread in which folk who follow such matters can post articles that catch their eye... The intention is for discussion about specific subjects, rather than science vs religion, creation vs evolution, which are covered elsewhere.
This paper in Nature Geoscience
caught my eye:Surprising return of deep convection to the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean in winter 2007–2008. Våge et al, 2008
"In the process of open-ocean convection in the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean, surface water sinks to depth as a distinct water mass, the characteristics of which affect the meridional overturning circulation and oceanic heat flux. In addition, carbon is sequestered from the atmosphere in the process. In recent years, this convection has been shallow or non-existent, which could be construed as a consequence of a warmer climate. Here we document the return of deep convection to the subpolar gyre in both the Labrador and Irminger seas in the winter of 2007–2008. We use profiling float data from the Argo programme to document deep mixing. Analysis of a variety of in situ, satellite and reanalysis data shows that contrary to expectations the transition to a convective state took place abruptly, without going through a phase of preconditioning. Changes in hemispheric air temperature, storm tracks, the flux of fresh water to the Labrador Sea and the distribution of pack ice all contributed to an enhanced flux of heat from the sea to the air, making the surface water sufficiently cold and dense to initiate deep convection. Given this complexity, we conclude that it will be difficult to predict when deep mixing may occur again."
Anyone who has watched "The Day after Tomorrow" will be familiar with the idea that the slowing down of the deep thermohaline circulation in recent years has been a direct result of "global warming" (I put it in brackets as it is not a phrase I particularly like). This article points out that a mixture of processes in the North Atlantic resulted in sufficient cooling of surface waters in the Labrador Sea (between Canada and Greenland) to kickstart it again. It is a good example of the complexity of the climate system, and why some of the broad, sweeping assertions made in the popular press don't reflect reality very well. Predictions about future climate changes are based on computer models, and the kind of processes described in this paper are too complex to appear in a model, and yet have clearly had a far-reaching affect...
Thoughts? Comments? Any science issues that have caught your eyes recently?