Rapid Climate Change (RAPID)

Schematic of the North Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.
Schematic of the North Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. ©

17 November 2005

BODC launch a web site to provide access to realtime data from the RAPID Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) monitoring array on behalf of RAPID MOC. Graphical displays and a data download facility are now available online. Access to some data is restricted to project participants.

What is MOC?

There is a northward transport of heat throughout the Atlantic Ocean reaching a maximum around 24.5°N. This heat transport is a balance of the northward flux of a warm Gulf Stream and a southward flux of cooler thermocline and cold North Atlantic deep water. This is known as the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC).

Warming by the MOC means that northwest Europe enjoys a mild climate for its latitude. However, climate models and paleoclimate records have indicated that an abrupt rearrangement of the Atlantic Circulation may cause a 5-10C cooling of European climate. Therefore, a principal objective of RAPID is the development of a system that will continuously observe the strength and structure of the MOC

The monitoring array

Telemetry buoys are being deployed at the Western and Eastern boundaries of the North Atlantic at 26.5°N as part of the RAPID MOC project. These buoys will transmit temperature, pressure, conductivity and current speed data from various depths throughout the water column.

The ultimate aim is to provide a weekly averaged MOC value, using data from these telemetry buoys together with transport data from the Florida Current Transport Project and wind stress data.