An anticipated cooling of the Atlantic Ocean will alter climates throughout the Western Hemisphere, according to a new study from the University of Southampton.

The half-degree drop in ocean surface temperature will bring dry summers in Britain, higher sea levels in the northeastern United States and drought in Africa’s Sahel region.

Known as Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation, the alternating rise and drop of ocean temperatures takes place every three decades, and is controlled by a series of ocean currents that moves heat north from the equator. As the currents have gradually, cyclically weakened, they have begun to transport less heat, thereby bringing down the surface temperature of the water.

Even a slight drop in ocean temperature has a profound impact on weather around the world:

“These variations have been shown to influence temperature, rainfall, drought and even the frequency of hurricanes in many regions of the world. This decadal variability, called the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation, is a notable feature of the Atlantic Ocean and the climate of the regions it influences,” said study lead author Dr. Gerard McCarthy


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