The Agulhas Current may be stabilizing the climate of the planet which is facing irreversible global warming.
© IRD / L. Corsini
Located between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the Agulhas Current plays a major role in the weather of the planet. The current originates between Africa and Madagascar and flows along the South-African coast and then turns back on itself near the Cape of Good Hope. Some part of the current flow flows into the Atlantic. This “Agulhas leak” causes injection of warm and salty water. This causes the surface water to move as gigantic eddies of 500 km in diameter. These are called as “Agulhas eddies” and they feed the global thermohaline circulation.
Recent studies based on satellite altimeter measurements have revealed that the Agulhas Current has been accelerating for over 17 years. The increased injection of highly salt water may be offsetting the negative effects of glacial melting on global climate and the thermohaline circulation. Global warming is causing meltdown of Arctic ice which may be slowing down the global ocean currents that control the planet’s climate.
Global warming is strengthening the trade winds and the westerly winds of the "roaring forties”. These winds are reinforcing the Agulhas current, by causing a rise in temperature of surface water and higher rainfall in the equatorial region. The reinforcement amplifies the “Agulhas leak” causing more intense “Agulhas eddies”. The northward flow of saltier water is aiding in the maintenance of the global thermohaline circulation.