Weather maker

The North Atlantic’s Gulf Stream affects the overlying atmosphere more strongly than previously suspected. Surface waters of the 100-kilometer-wide current (white, with Florida bottom left) can be significantly warmer than those nearby, says Shoshiro Minobe, a climate scientist at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan.

F. Araki and S. Kawahara/ESC JAMSTEC

High-resolution satellite images reveal that the atmosphere over the Gulf Stream hosts thunderstorms and stronger convection more often than the surrounding ocean, Minobe’s team reports in the March 13 Nature. The team’s model suggests that the curtain of rising air over the current (orange depicts upward wind velocities as high as 3 millimeters per second, yellow shows slower speeds) reaches 8-km altitudes and may influence weather in Europe.

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