News FocusClimate Change

Warming's Unpleasant Surprise: Shivering in the Greenhouse?

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Science  10 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5374, pp. 156-158
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5374.156

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At a conference last month in Snowbird, Utah, researchers heard overwhelming evidence that the so-called "conveyor belt" current that warms northern Europe and adjacent Asia has repeatedly slackened and at times even shut off during the past 100,000 years, in concert with dramatic climate shifts around the hemisphere. And computer models suggest that, ironically, the greenhouse's moister air could also squelch the conveyor belt--with potentially alarming repercussions. The prospect underscores the oceans' power over climate, also featured in the Special Section beginning on page 189.