‘It’s urgent’: Research shows right whales may not survive ocean warming and human impact

Cape Cod Times

A trio of recently published research papers paint a grim picture for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Caught between climate change impacts that have warmed the Gulf of Maine faster than just about any other marine ecosystem on Earth, and fatal interactions with ships and fishing gear, the right whale — the most endangered great whale in the world with less than 360 individuals remaining — may be headed for extinction.

One research paper showed that a slowdown in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) was largely responsible for the increased warming in Gulf of Maine waters.

AMOC is a massive, planetary-scale system of currents that help equalize global temperatures by moving warm water from the tropics north on surface currents like the Gulf Stream. The water cools, condenses, and drops to the ocean depths around Greenland, Iceland and the North Sea, returning south as a cold-water-bottom current.

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