A current in the Indian Ocean could be a primary contributing factor to the changes in global climatic conditions in the future, new reports say.
The Agulhas Current, which is one of the strongest currents in the world, is growing wider rather than strengthening in force, scientistshave discovered. The study conducted by researchers from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science reveals that the phenomenon is a direct result ofintensifying winds in the region. Instead of increasing the flow rate of the current, the winds areimpacting the Agulhas’s turbulence. This has been happening since the early 1990s due to increased eddying and meandering.
“To find decades of broadening, rather than intensification, profoundly impacts our understanding of the Agulhas Current and its future role in climate change,” said researcher Shane Elipot. NDTV reports that the study was conducted by using measurements collected during expeditions to the Agulhas Current alongside thorough estimation of satellite data collected over 22 years.
“Increased eddying and meandering could act to decrease poleward heat transport, while increasing coastal upwelling and the exchange of pollutants and larvae across the current from the coast to the open ocean,” Elipot said.
The Agulhas Current is several hundreds of kilometres long and over 2,000-metres deep. It flows along the east coast of South Africa and transports a significant amount ofocean heat away from the tropics towards the poles. The widening of the currentwill heavily impact not only the climate of South Africa, but being one of the major currents of the world, it will affect global climatic conditions.
Lisa Beal, another member of the team of researchers, stated: “Changes in western boundary currents could exacerbate or mitigate future climate change.Currently, western boundary current regions are warming at three times the rate of the rest of the world ocean and our research suggests this may be related to a broadening of these current systems.”