Gulf Stream system at its weakest in 1,600 years, study shows

Updated 8:04 AM EDT, Thu April 12, 2018
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 27:  Ice calves at the Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest ice field in the world, on November 27, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. The majority of the almost 50 large glaciers in Los Glacieres National Park have been retreating during the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in ice caps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images South America/Getty Images
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 27: Ice calves at the Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest ice field in the world, on November 27, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. The majority of the almost 50 large glaciers in Los Glacieres National Park have been retreating during the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in ice caps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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(CNN) —  

A key component of the global oceanic circulatory system, which includes the Atlantic’s Gulf Stream, is at its weakest in more than 1,600 years, a new study has found.

Research recently published in science journal Nature by the University College London (UCL) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has found that the circulation of water in the Atlantic has been declining since the 1800s.

It’s a trend which could exacerbate the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels on the US East Coast and disrupted weather patterns across North America, Europe and north Africa, including the increase in frequency of extreme weather events, like flooding, drought and winter storms.