Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Strands of kelp at Shelly Point in Beaumaris, Tasmania on September 7, 2019. The Tasman Sea is warming and once plentiful kelp forests have rapidly declined. The kelp rising in 30-foot high stalks has been habitat for rare ocean life through recorded history. Once present along the whole length of Tasmania's east coast, now little is left.

Strands of kelp at Shelly Point in Beaumaris, Tasmania on September 7, 2019. The Tasman Sea is warming and once plentiful kelp forests have rapidly declined.  The kelp rising in 30-foot high stalks has been habitat for rare ocean life through recorded history.  Once present along the whole length of Tasmania's east coast, now little is left. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Warming Ocean Currents Affect Weather and Environment

Australia's giant kelp beds are literally being cooked by the ocean

Meena Miriam YustArshad M. Khan

If one can imagine looking at our globe from the South Pole end, one can observe the ocean currents circulating water across the oceans.

First one would notice a current all the way around the perimeter of the Antarctic.  A surface current circulates clockwise but there is also a deep undercurrent in the same direction.  Branches then lead off towards the different oceans serving as a global conveyor belt mixing the waters.

A deep current pushes its way between the east coast of Africa and Madagascar emerging as the monsoon surface current across the Indian ocean to India before looping back to supplement another current along Africa's west coast.  This eventually crosses the Atlantic to form the Gulf Stream drift recrossing the Atlantic to warm Britain and southern Scandinavia.  Currents also loop the Pacific.

In an early Islamic map the system is clarified.  The currents serve as global arteries that redistribute heat, salt and carbon around the globe.  Is it climate change slowing the system, mitigating its tempering effects?  It has slowed by about 15 percent in the last half-century.

One consequence is the worsening Indian Ocean dipole effect where contrasting sea surface temperatures in the warmer western (Arabian Sea area) and cooler eastern end near Indonesia affect climate.  This year has seen one of the strongest dipoles on record, a 2C difference.  The result is more storms for East Africa leading to cooler, wetter weather, while at the other end Australia suffers extreme heat and raging bush fires far worse than usual.  No ordinary fire but a 50-meter high firewall engulfed the homes, according to a shocked homeowner in a vivid description of what happened.  The uncontrollable fires continue with the hope they will burn themselves out.

The ocean warming is also killing the kelp beds in the waters by the island of Tasmania.  Australia's giant kelp beds are literally being cooked by the ocean.  The kelp rising in 30-foot high stalks has been habitat for rare ocean life through recorded history.  Once present along the whole length of Tasmania's east coast, now little is left -- just in the cooler waters bordering the southern tip.

And the effects of global warming are everywhere.  The Arctic tundra's permafrost is melting from Alaska through Russia's Siberia.  At 57 degrees Fahrenheit, Chicago has just experienced the second warmest Christmas on record i.e. since 1871; the day following was 56 F and the hottest December 26 ever.  New Jersey's winters are so warm, its lakes no longer freeze.

Fish follow their instincts but are also in trouble.  When the water turns too warm, they move, collapsing known fisheries.  Worse, an abrupt change can decimate numbers.  Fisheries in widely separated countries such as Japan, Angola and Uruguay are affected.

While the Philippines suffers a dozen and more severe storms annually, this year it has been hit by Super-Typhoon Mangkut in September with winds gusting to 255 km/h (160 mph).  That is equivalent to a Category 5 (most severe) Atlantic storm.  Then on December 3, it was struck by Typhoon Kammuri, followed not long thereafter by Typhoon Phanfone ... tragically on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day turning celebration into anguish.  Aside from the loss of crops and damage to infrastructure, the typhoons kill dozens of people, if not more, and can displace hundreds of thousands who take time to repair their lives.

Climate change (or more accurately warming) and the weather and its consequences remain inextricably linked.  So are we humans, the principal catalysts of this Anthropocene age


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Meena Miriam Yust

Meena Miriam Yust

Meena Miriam Yust is an attorney based in Chicago, Illinois.  Educated at Vassar College and Case Western Reserve University School of Law, she published a draft Migratory Insect Treaty with commentary in the Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law.

Arshad M. Khan

Arshad M. Khan

Arshad M. Khan is a retired US- based professor and occasional commentator. Educated at King's College London, OSU and The University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·


In 10 Key US Senate Races, Here's How Top Candidates Responded to Roe Ruling

While Republicans unanimously welcomed the Supreme Court's rollback of half a century of reproductive rights, one Democrat said "it's just wrong that my granddaughter will have fewer freedoms than my grandmother did."

Brett Wilkins ·


Sanders Says End Filibuster to Combat 'Outrageous' Supreme Court Assault on Abortion Rights

"If Republicans can end the filibuster to install right-wing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats can and must end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade, and make abortion legal and safe," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo