Scientists Warn of 'Scary' Collapse of Ocean Current

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Newser 06 August, 2021 - 12:20pm 60 views

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(Newser) – An ocean current that is effectively the engine that drives weather patterns is in danger, a new study suggests. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation is a current that moves surface water north from the tropics, warming seawater and adding salt, bringing warm water to the East Coast and Europe, then sinking and bringing cool water back to the tropics under the surface. It’s been reliable and predictable, probably since the last Ice Age. Scientists, however, say it is now destabilizing. David Thornalley, a paleoceanographer at University College London, has shown that the AMOC is at its weakest point in 1,600 years, the Guardian reports. Without it, what we think of as normal seasons could go away. Researchers published an analysis of more than a hundred years of ocean data in the journal Nature Climate Change Thursday.

That analysis shows major changes in markers that indicate ocean movement and salinity. If the current is weakening, it could mean freakishly cold winters in Europe and parts of the US, plus rising sea levels on the East coast, the Washington Post reports. That could mean catastrophic weather and disruptions of agriculture. Niklas Boers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany wrote the analysis. “The signs of destabilization being visible already is something that I wouldn’t have expected and that I find scary,” Boers said. Events such as the melting of Greenland’s ice sheets, are speeding the change and slowing the current. Levke Caesar, also a member of the Potsam Institute, said, “We might be closer to an AMOC tipping than we think.” (Read more climate change stories.)

Read full article at Newser

'Irreversible', study warns parts of North America may rapidly freeze

TweakTown 07 August, 2021 - 03:40pm

Led author of the study, Niklas Boers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research located in Germany, said the AMOC is "one of our planet's key circulation systems", and according to the findings from the study, the AMOC is on the verge of collapsing, which would have major impacts around the world. The authors warn that if the AMOC halts, Europe and North America could begin to experience extremely cold weather, as well as parts of the US East Coast could see a rise in sea levels.

Boers goes on to explain that the results of the study indicate that the AMOC is approaching what is described as a "critical threshold", "beyond which the circulation system could collapse." The led author recognizes that the study's method doesn't provide a time for when the AMOC will collapse. However, Boers states that it provides enough evidence that the AMOC has lost its stability, "which I take as a warning that we might be closer to an AMOC tipping than we think", says Boers.

Adding, "It's one of those events that should not happen, and we should try all that we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. This is a system we don't want to mess with."

"The difference is crucial because the loss of dynamical stability would imply that the AMOC has approached its critical threshold, beyond which a substantial and in practice likely irreversible transition to the weak mode could occur," said Boers.

If you are interested in reading more about this study, check out this link here.

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