Global Warming Slows Wind Patterns
Could global warming be weakening air circulation between the eastern and western regions of the Pacific Ocean? It's possible, according to a recent study conducted by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Reviewing records dating back to 1861, the research team found that a steady west-to-east flow of tropical Pacific air called the Walker circulation is declining due to lessening pressure differences between the two regions of the ocean. The team then constructed models that suggested that only human-driven atmospheric warming could account for the reduced pressure.
The result of a weakened Walker circulation? The Walker circulation, among other things, governs the El Niño-La Niña weather cycle, and a depressed air flow could cause more El Niño rainy cycles. Such cycles could help alleviate drought in the western US, but could also cause dry spells in tropical regions.