The ocean currents play a fundamental role in the climate system and in a number of ways affect terrestrial and marine ecosystems and global carbon cycle. Numerous paleoclimate data indicate that abrupt climate changes observed in the past were associated with changes in the ocean circulation, primarily the Atlantic thermohaline circulations. Modeling studies demonstrate that, at least on a regional scale, this effect is very important and this is supported by numerous paleoclimate records. There is a concern that anthropogenic global warming may cause a substantial reorganization of the ocean circulation, which will not only negatively affect natural ecosystem, but may cause a considerable impact on agriculture, fishery, and cause other negative socioeconomic consequences.

See also: Climate Change 1 : Short-Term Dynamics; Climate Change 2: Long-Term Dynamics; Climate Change 3: History and Current State; Climate Change Models; Global Warming Potential and the Net Carbon Balance.

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