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Ocean currents around Iceland

A hidden ocean current, discovered far below the sea's surface near Iceland, could be a major player in the ocean's response to climate change. Deep water currents have its say in the matter and this new player could play its role.

Icelandic Scientists Steingrímur Jóhannesson from the University of Akureyri and Héðinn Valdimarsson found the current in the Denmark Strait. Located between Iceland and Greenland, The Denmark Strait is one of the most important stretches of water in the entire world-ocean circulation, according to the scientists.

The 600 mile wide Denmark Strait is the main portal for southbound water. Every second of every day millions of cubic meters of warm water flow north along the British Isles and up the coast of Norway aboard an arm of the Gulf Stream System, treating Western Europe to a far more moderate climate than their latitude deserves.

However, if all that warm water flows north, an equal quantity of cold water must flow south to maintain the circulation—the stability of our climate depends on it.

The new current has changed the accepted theory that said a current flowing down the East Greenland coast delivered most of the water to the strait. Yet the area was, according to the Icelanders, under-measured.

In 2004 they found the current, named it the North Icelandic Jet and in 2008 the current was confirmed by WHOI oceanographer Bob Pickart with extended measurements.

The new theory is that the current supplies fully half the water that exits the strait to form the return-flow current.

The expedition witch set sail from Reykjavík three days ago is looking to confirm this, and continuing to research the possibly vastly important current.

HERE is the webpage of the expedition.

Schematic of the North Atlantic Overturning Circulation