New Study Finds That Ocean Currents Register an Accelerated Pace Now

New Study Finds That Ocean Currents Register an Accelerated Pace Now

The currents in the ocean are allegedly moving at a faster pace than they did 20 years ago. A new study, published on February 6th in the journal Science Advances, states that this speedier pace is taking place all over the world, with the most noticeable impacts in the tropical latitudes.

The Increased Acceleration in Ocean Currents is Not Normal

The increased acceleration is not only found at the ocean’s surface, but it is taking place deep within, about 6,560 feet (2,000 meters) down. “The magnitude and extent of the acceleration in ocean currents we detected throughout the global ocean and to 2000-meter (6,560 foot) depth was quite surprising,” study co-author Janet Sprintall, an oceanographer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, said in a statement.

“While we expected some response to the increased winds over the past two decades, that the acceleration was above and beyond, that was an unexpected response that is likely due to global climate change.”

Winds above the ocean have also been accelerating at a pace of 1.9 percent per decade, the scientists discovered. This enhancement in wind velocity sends energy to the ocean’s surface, and therefore, to deeper waters. Approximately 76 percent of the upper 6,560 feet (2,000 meters) of the oceans have encountered an enhance in kinetic energy since the 1990s. In general, ocean current speeds have increased at about 5 percent per decade since the 1990s, the research claimed.

The analysis was conducted by Shijian Hu, an oceanographer at the Institute of Oceanology in Qingdao, China. Hu, along with Sprintall and their fellow colleagues, wanted to know the real global changes that take place in ocean currents because previous studies had a confusing result.

For instance, currents in the subtropics that shift energy from the equator to the poles have increased throughout the last century. However, some significant regional currents, such as the Kuroshio in the western North Pacific Ocean, depict almost no trace of acceleration, the scientists noted.

Climate Change Might Be the Culprit

The researching team reanalyzed old current data and collected new information from the Argo program, a scientific mission that utilizes a large number of individuals, missile-shaped floats to collect data about ocean temperature, salinity, and currents.

The acceleration is not suddenly evident because ocean currents travel at a slow pace, study co-author Michael McPhaden, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, stated. For instance, the South Equatorial Current in the Pacific Ocean travels at about a mile per hour, so it would only accelerate up to 0.05 mph in ten years, he explained.

Considering the massive amounts of water moving, however, an enormous quantity of energy input is requested to trigger than speed up. The changes are more extensive than what would be anticipated from natural variability, which says that global warming is the reason behind it.

Numerous matters have no answer at the moment when it comes to changes in ocean circulation, Hu and his team noted in their research. Understanding the alterations in ocean circulation is significant for comprehending climate change and its impacts, the scientists wrote. Ocean currents transport heat all over the world, which can, therefore, impact ocean habitats, local weather, and regional temperatures.


Jeffrey likes to write about health and fitness topics, being a champion fitness instructor in the past.

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