Monday, January 28, 2008

Rapid Watch - sensing the Gulf Stream

The Guardian has written about 'Rapid Watch' -an armada of robot submarines and marine sensors are to be deployed across the Atlantic, from Florida to the Canary Islands, to provide early warning that the Gulf Stream might be failing, an event that would trigger cataclysmic freezing in Britain for decades:

The £16m system, called Rapid Watch, will use the latest underwater monitoring techniques to check whether cold water pouring south from melting Arctic ice sheets is diverting the current's warm waters away from Britain.
Without the Gulf Stream, the UK would be as cold as Canada in winter. Ports could freeze over and snowstorms and blizzards would paralyse the country...

...But in 2004, Dr Srokosz - with his Southampton colleagues Professor Harry Bryden and Dr Stuart Cunningham - set up Rapid, a temporary array of sensors fixed to the seabed that provided daily measurements of the Gulf Stream for the first time. The first results, which were published last year, revealed that the Gulf Stream fluctuates in a highly unpredictable fashion.

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