March 4, 2024 at 3:37 pm

New Study Shows Atlantic Ocean’s Main Current Is Set To Collapse And The World Could Get A Lot Colder As A Result

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Wikimedia Commons

As if we need one more climate-related concern – especially related to the ocean – to worry about, it seems the main global current in the Atlantic Ocean is reaching a tipping point.

And yeah, it kind of seems like a big deal.

It’s called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Sometimes referred to as “the conveyor belt of the ocean,” the current carries warm water from the tropics into the North Atlantic – and its collapse will have profound impacts on the world’s climate.

The AMOC plays a primary role in pushing heat and freshwater through the Atlantic using deep and near-surface currents. It transfers warm and salty surface water north, where it cools and forms sea ice at the North Pole.

Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

What’s left sinks and is carried back south deep below the surface, completing the cycle.

This helps facilitate warmer weather conditions in Northwest Europe and the North Atlantic, meaning that those parts of the world would (will?) be a lot colder without its help.

Studies have shown the AMOC is slowing down, flowing at its weakest rate for centuries, as the climate crisis deepens.

The latest research suggests it could collapse in as little as a decade, though that fact is still hotly debated.

Scientists at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands claim they’ve found a way to detect an early warning sign that the AMOC is facing imminent collapse.

Source: Shutterstock

To find it, they ran a computational model that simulates the flow of surface freshwater around the North Atlantic over the past 2,200 years.

The key takeaway is that the movement of the freshwater around the 34th parallel south, the southern boundary of the Atlantic, could help predict this collapse. This is because the minimum amount of freshwater being shifted upward will drastically decline, verifying that the collapse will happen within the next two decades.

The bottom line is that their findings support others that claim “the present-day AMOC is on route to tipping.”

“The results here give a clear answer to a long-standing problem around in the climate research community concerning the existence of AMOC tipping behavior in GCMs (global climate models).”

Source: Wikimedia Commons

They went on to detail the gloom and doom.

“Yes, it does occur in these models. This is bad news for the climate system and humanity as up until now one could think that AMOC tipping was only a theoretical concept and tipping would disappear as soon as the full climate system, with all it’s additional feedbacks, was considered.”

They did not give a specific date and time when this tipping point would occur, but have warned that its eventual collapse will “dramatically” upset the distribution of heat across the oceans.

If you think that’s impressive, check out this story about a “goldmine” of lithium that was found in the U.S. that could completely change the EV battery game.