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About the Arctic - What Happened To the 'Pumps of Greenland'?

Updated on October 29, 2015
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Mario Buildreps is a graduate engineer. Become aware of topics in a way you have never heard before.

Meltwater from glaciers on Greenland
Meltwater from glaciers on Greenland

About the 'Pumps of Greenland'

A simple explanation what the 'Pumps of Greenland' are in terms of popular science; It are believed to be the engines that maintain the global Gulf Stream`s momentum. The mild climate in Northern Europe are a direct result of this warm Gulf Stream. The 'pumps of Greenland' are the actuators that partly transfer the planet's heat around the globe, called Thermohaline circulation.

A current of warm salty sea water floats on the surface through the South-West Atlantic towards the North-East Atlantic where it meets the cold, less salty sea water around Greenland. During this 'meeting' the relative warm salty water cools down, sinks to the bottom of the ocean and floats back as a deep current to its origin in The Pacific. During this cooling down process the sea water excretes salt from the solution, because cold water is unable to maintain a high saline solution.

This is just a part of the mechanism that creates the momentum. Another part of the momentum is caused by the rotation of the earth resulting in huge vortices in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

How these mechanisms exactly work and if the Pumps of Greenland are the actuator or more a result is not certain.

Spain versus New York

If you compare the latitude of Spain and the state of New York, you'll see they are at the same latitude, around 40.5 degrees. But the climate of New York is cold, while the climate of Spain is much milder, which is claimed to be the direct result of the warm Gulf Stream.

To understand the huge power of the Gulf Stream, it equals 2.9% of all solar power that is absorbed by earth’s surface and released in a relative small area, Northern Europe.

The average temperature in Spain in January is 6°C, while the average temperature in New York in January is 0°C. On macro scale this is a huge difference.

The Gulf Stream is certainly no small matter. But there are also scientific reports that say the Gulf Stream has hardly no effect on our climate as claimed.

So there are many models, many point of views, and many reports that tell us totally opposite things. Why are some point of views more influential than others?

Conveyor Belt

About the Prophets of Doom

Well, it looks like the combination of popularism with immature models and influential political connections wins from pure scientific rationalism.

The Prophets of Doom (or Profits of Doom) were right with their prediction that the pumps of Greenland would stop to work, allegedly due to the melting water of the glaciers of Greenland, disturbing the pump operation. The sweet water from the glaciers is lighter than the warm salt water from the Gulf Stream, disturbing the Momentum of the pump operation, in some complicated way.

If the pumps would stop to work disaster and adversity would be poured out on us, in the form of a new ice age. The predictions were made with an eerily accuracy, with convincing computer models, studies on the global effects and economical disaster worldwide. Enormous amounts of money were 'pumped' to this energy lobby.

The pumps of Greenland stopped to work, but nothing happened then. Apparently these Prophets of Doom didn't understand how the conveyor system actually worked and still don't, despite their enormous resources.

The pump operation now moved to two other spots around Greenland, which the researchers totally missed as a scenario. You can also conclude from this the 'pumps' are a natural result of a momentum caused by other forces, like the rotation of the Earth.

Balancing between Salinity and Temperature

We all learned at school when you heat a gas or liquid it goes up, for heat expands matter which makes it less dense.

So it is logical that the warm water is floating on the surface and the cold water sinks deep down. The deeper the colder. So far the simple logic.

The balance becomes more complicated in seawater, with the addition of salt that is more than two times as heavy as water - a complicated mixing process arises. The higher the temperature the higher the salinity, for the colder the water, the less the ability to take salt in solution. So, the higher the salinity the heavier the water becomes, which is a force to drag the warmer water down at a certain salinity level, with a complicated mixing process as a result. How this process exactly works is heavily under discussion.

This gives you perhaps a little bit insight in the complexity of this, at first hand, simple looking issue. This was one of the problems in the superficial models of the initial 'Pumps of Greenland' back in the Nineties.

If you're interested in the tough science, you can take a look at this.

Pump or Result

There are two principle opinions in the 'Pumps of Greenland' issue.

  1. The Pumps are unique and are the engines of the Gulf Stream momentum;
  2. The pumps are just resulting of the vortices of all Oceans, that is expressed around Greenland.

Science is not unanimous about this.

Can you imagine how much more complicated the global models are from which the Gulf Stream is just one little part? It is good we are trying to make models, but everyone should be highly skeptical to invest in large green projects that are based upon superficial models, for the uncertainties are much larger than often presented.

The Momentum of the Movement

The effect which I call the Momentum of the Movement, is the organizations that had a good business in the Gulf Stream matter are now in charge of the Greenhouse effect, which is a much larger, steady growing business.

The models of the Greenhouse effect are much more complicated than the models of the Gulf Stream and these models are still in its infancy. It is probably that the outcomes are much more unpredictable than the Gulf Stream scenario once was.

It could mean total disaster much sooner or a totally unchanged climate on the long term, because the planet is able to repair itself through a mechanism we still don't fully understand. Or even that humans have totally no influence on the climate if you look on long term temperature graphs, perhaps humanity can look forward to a new ice age, based upon historical facts.

The Pumps of Greenland have fallen into oblivion, but it is important to learn from these kind of mistakes to prevent the world from unprofitable investments, if the models appear to be wrong again.

The basis of the Hockey Stick prediction. According to independent scientist the sample period is much too short.
The basis of the Hockey Stick prediction. According to independent scientist the sample period is much too short.

The Controversial Hockey Stick Curve

The successor of the Pumps of Greenland is the global warming theory which is based on the 'Hockey Stick' theory. The Hockey Stick is a graph in the form of a hockey stick that shows around 1900 a strong increase of the global temperature, which should be caused by human Carbon and Methane emission.

The IPCC report of 2001, that is the basis of the climate movement of today, are scientifically highly controversial.

The controversy is about the following:

  • The used period of thousand years is much too short;
  • The temperature distribution is too large for reliable predictions;
  • The used methods to filter out the effects of industrialisation on the climate are too primitive and even highly subjective.

The NRC Committee concluded in 2006 that the foundations of the IPCC reports are much more uncertain than estimated at first hand.

It is likely that history is repeating itself and that the same profiteers that were involved in the Gulf Stream matter are now filling their pockets with the highly controversial global warming.


Long Term Predictions

Why the Hockey Stick theory is controversial is obvious if you look on the longer term temperature graphs of the Earth.

This graphs show the fickleness of Earth's temperature over a longer period, resulting in a total other conclusion than the Hockey Stick theory, that Earth's temperature is still recovering from the last Ice age. Especially with this in mind it's tricky science to look on the short term and obvious not very wise from a scientific point of view, but very welcome to support the Momentum of the Green Movement.

The problem with the science practised by both the supporters and opponents of global warming is that they're both exaggerating their data and deliberately manipulate the data to put extra power in their foundation.


It is obvious to be more skeptical towards claims that predict climate change and disaster. But also to the skeptics that claim to have found proof that nothing is going on. It is mere populism, playing on the emotions of the public, than pure science.

The research institutes are benefiting from finding proof of an already planned outcome. It would be strange if the IPCC would come with proof that human activity has no influence on the climate, for it would make them unemployed.

Climate research is very big business and has also more to do with political connections and money than with thorough science and this is principally very wrong.

Investments based on populism that appear to be unprofitable are a waste for the generations that inherit our earth and its resources.

We all should be warned to be more sceptical towards research institutes that benefit from a certain outcome, for it is illogical to delve your own grave.

Investing in less emission is good, if the community benefits from cleaner air, like for example the particulate filters in diesel engines, in order to reduce the emission of fine particles.

The models that are used to invest in our future are still too immature to predict earth's climate on the long term. Unprofitable investments based upon immature theories are a waste of effort and natural resources.

© 2013 by Buildreps


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