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AMOC and the Gulf Stream
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and the Gulf Stream are interconnected components of the global ocean circulation system. Both play critical roles in distributing heat and maintaining climate balance, but they represent different aspects of the system.
The Gulf Stream is a warm, powerful, and fast-moving ocean current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico, flows up the U.S. East Coast, and extends into the North Atlantic. It is a part of the North Atlantic Current and is a wind-driven surface current, primarily influenced by the wind and the Earth's rotation.
The Gulf Stream plays a critical role in transferring heat from the tropics to the North Atlantic, which significantly affects the climate, particularly that of Western Europe. For instance, countries like the UK and Ireland have milder climates than other regions at the same latitude, primarily due to the heat brought by the Gulf Stream.
Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)
The AMOC is a larger system of which the Gulf Stream is a part. It is a system of currents that includes the flow of warm, salty water in the upper layers of the Atlantic (that's where the Gulf Stream comes into play) and a return flow of colder, deep waters in the Atlantic.
The AMOC's "overturning" aspect comes into play when the warm water transported by the Gulf Stream to the North Atlantic cools down, becomes denser, and sinks. This water then moves southward in the deep ocean, eventually returning to the surface in the Southern Ocean and the tropics. Thus, AMOC forms a sort of conveyor belt, moving warm surface water northward and cold deep water southward.
Differences and Connections
The primary differences between the Gulf Stream and the AMOC are their scope and driving forces. The Gulf Stream is a component of the AMOC and is driven by wind patterns and the rotation of the Earth. In contrast, the AMOC encompasses the entire Atlantic and also includes thermohaline circulation, driven by differences in water density, affected by both temperature (thermo) and salinity (haline).
The Gulf Stream and the AMOC are interconnected. The Gulf Stream, as part of the upper branch of the AMOC, transports warm, salty water northwards. When this water reaches the North Atlantic, it cools, sinks, and contributes to driving the lower branch of the AMOC. Thus, they are parts of the same vast oceanic circulation system, influencing the Earth's climate on various scales.
Winter Olympics 2026
| Visualisation | Global Warming | Links |
En Français --> | Olympiques d'Hiver de 2026 | Visualisation! |
In Italiano --> | Giochi Olimpici d'Inverno 2026 | Visualizzazione! |
Auf Deutsch --> | Winterolympiade 2026 | Veranschaulichung |
Congratulations to Milan–Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, chosen for the Winter Olympics in 2026 as announced on 24 June 2019.
See a list of the other applicants that had expressed an interest in holding the 2026 Winter Olympics.