Palm Trees Growing in Ireland

The climate is mild enough in North West Ireland for palm trees to grow because of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation which transports heat from the Southern Hemisphere and the tropics to the North Atlantic. The photo below is being used as an illustration in a publication of the U.S. Geological Survey on the subject of rapid climate change. It is included as figure 1.7 (with permission) in chapter one (SAP 3.4.1) written by Peter Clark, Andrew Weaver, Ed Brook, Edward Cook, Tom Delworth, and Konrad Steffen. The photo was made on January 15, 2004 at Mullaghmore Head in County Sligo, Ireland.

The final version of the paper on climate change is online now at http://downloads.globalchange.gov/sap/sap3-4/sap3-4-final-report-ch1.pdf .

Next photo of Mullaghmore Head. Previous photo of Mullaghmore Head.

Palm Trees on Mullaghmore Head, Sligo, Ireland. A group of about 9 or 10 palm trees are growing behind a stone wall at a bend of the road next to the Atlantic Ocean. The mountains of County Donegal are barely visible on the horizon.

A more recent paper concerning the Atlantic meridonal overturning circulation is at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/07/25/1104772108.abstract. One of the authors had a copy of the full paper on a web page at
http://mgg.coas.oregonstate.edu/~andreas/pdf/M/marcott11pnas.pdf at the time of this writing.

Episodic iceberg-discharge events from the Hudson Strait Ice Stream (HSIS) of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, referred to as Heinrich events, are commonly attributed to internal ice-sheet instabilities, but their systematic occurrence at the culmination of a large reduction in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) indicates a climate control. We report Mg/Ca data on benthic foraminifera from an intermediate-depth site in the northwest Atlantic and results from a climate-model simulation that reveal basin-wide subsurface warming at the same time as large reductions in the AMOC, with temperature increasing by approximately 2#C over a 1-2 kyr interval prior to a Heinrich event. In simulations with an ocean model coupled to a thermodynamically active ice shelf, the increase in subsurface temperature increases basal melt rate under an ice shelf fronting the HSIS by a factor of approximately 6. By analogy with recent observations in Antarctica, the resulting ice-shelf loss and attendant HSIS acceleration would produce a Heinrich event.
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1104772108

We also have photos of Ireland from April and May 2007 and photos of Ireland from July 2005 and more photos of Ireland from January 2004 .

An interesting paper on the Atlantic meridonal overturning circulation:

Physical Sciences - Environmental Sciences:
    * Matthias Hofmann
    * and Stefan Rahmstorf
Tipping Elements in Earth Systems Special Feature: On the stability of the 
Atlantic meridional overturning circulation
PNAS published online before print November 6, 2009, 
doi:10.1073/pnas.0909146106
PDF copy of the paper on the stability of the Atlantic meridonal overturning circulation is at http://academics.eckerd.edu/instructor/hastindw/MS1410-001_FA08/handouts/BrydenTHC05.pdf.

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