Gulf Stream edging northwards along Canadian coast

2011-01-13 PhysicsWorld

Corals can document changes in the deep-sea environment

Corals can document changes in the deep-sea environment

The Gulf Stream off eastern Canada appears to have advanced northward of its historical position in recent decades, possibly in response to anthropogenic climate change. That is according to researchers in North America and Switzerland who say that the changes could have some profound implications for marine life off the coast of Canada.

The new study focuses specifically on a region just off the coast of Nova Scotia. This section of the Atlantic is fed from the north by the cold waters of the Labrador Current, and from the south by the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream. The mixing of these two water flows creates a nutrient-rich ecosystem for species such as cod, which has attracted a large fishing industry.

By analysing micro-organisms preserved in deep-sea sediment, scientists have suspected for several years that the balance between the Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream waters has been changing. Water from the Gulf Stream tends to be more stratified and richer in nutrients so it leaves a different signature in the sediment record than the waters coming from the north.

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