CORRECTED - New Iceland current could sway N. Atlantic climate

Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:33pm GMT

(Deletes erroneous paragraph 5, beginning "Climate specialists")

* North Icelandic Jet feeds "conveyor belt" current

* May impact North Atlantic response to climate change

* New current recently confirmed, suspected for decades

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Aug 21 (Reuters) - A newly discovered deep, cold current flowing off Iceland's coast may reveal that the North Atlantic is less sensitive to climate change than previously thought, researchers reported on Sunday.

The new current, the North Icelandic Jet, feeds the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, a giant pattern known as the "great ocean conveyor belt," or by the disconcerting acronym AMOC.

Because this pattern is critically important for regulating Earth's climate, including European and North American climates, any strong influences on it, and their response to a warming Earth, are of keen scientific and practical interest.

The "conveyor belt" current, introduced to movie-goers in the Al Gore environmental film "An Inconvenient Truth," carries warm surface water from the tropical Atlantic toward the Arctic. In the process, the water warms the air in high latitudes, then cools, sinks and returns toward the equator, flowing as a deep stream at lower ocean depths.   Continued...

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