A recent report from Nature shows that a melting arctic ice cap is causing one of the world’s most pivotal climate drivers to slow down, causing some to fear a full shutdown in the next century. Made popular via the Hollywood movie, “The Day After Tomorrow,” the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, otherwise known as AMOC, is slowing down rapidly and could possibly shut down if temps continue to rise and ice near the north pole continues to melt.
“These positive buoyancy anomalies spread to the North Atlantic, weakening the AMOC and its poleward heat transport. Therefore, the Arctic sea-ice decline may explain the suggested slow-down of the AMOC and the ‘Warming Hole’ persisting in the subpolar North Atlantic.” – Nature Climate Change
Scientists are indicating that an AMOC shutdown could severely alter the global climate cycle with weather patterns in Europe and beyond seeing massive changes.
Among other things, AMOC transports warm water to the north Atlantic that ultimately plays a role in keeping Europe extremely temperate even though most of the continent’s latitudinal positioning is well north of The United States.
WHAT IS AMOC?
The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is a major current in the Atlantic Ocean, characterized by a northward flow of warm, salty water in the upper layers of the Atlantic, and a southward flow of colder water in the deep Atlantic. The AMOC is an important component of the Earth’s climate system.
This ocean current system transports a substantial amount of heat energy from the tropics and Southern Hemisphere toward the North Atlantic, where the heat is then transferred to the atmosphere. Changes in this ocean circulation could have a profound impact on many aspects of the global climate system.
There is growing evidence that fluctuations in Atlantic sea surface temperatures, hypothesized to be related to fluctuations in the AMOC, have played a prominent role in significant climate fluctuations around the globe on a variety of time scales – Wikipedia
For instance, London could start seeing snow more often (*same latitude as British Colombia) while wine country in France could see massive temperature swings that spoil grapes from Bordeaux to the Rhône Valley.
Still, scientists are quick to point out that this is a new frontier for climate science and we’re not entirely sure what to expect. Safe to say we won’t be running away from wolves in midtown Manhattan. That said, we might be running from rising seas and wild weather phenomena before we can do anything to stop the dominoes from falling. Let’s hope that’s not the case.
Find the entire study here: Arctic sea-ice decline weakens the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation