Sat. May 25th, 2024

AMOC is at risk of collapsing due to increasing planet-heating pollution –

Scientists are warning that a critical system of ocean currents, known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current (AMOC), is at risk of collapsing due to increasing planet-heating pollution. This collapse could occur as early as 2025 or within a few decades, with catastrophic consequences for global weather that would affect everyone on the planet. The AMOC, which includes the Gulf Stream, functions like a massive global conveyor belt, transporting warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic, where it cools, becomes saltier, and sinks into the ocean before flowing southwards. This system plays a vital role in regulating global weather patterns.


If the AMOC collapses, it would have severe implications, including more extreme winters, rising sea levels impacting parts of Europe and the US, and shifts in the tropical monsoon. The current climate crisis is accelerating the instability of the AMOC as increased ocean heat and melting ice lead to higher freshwater inflow, reducing the water’s density and its ability to sink. When the water becomes too fresh, warm, or both, the conveyor belt halts.


In the past, the AMOC has experienced shutdowns due to rapid glacier melt, resulting in significant temperature fluctuations in the Northern Hemisphere within a short period. Scientists stress that a collapse of the AMOC would be of global significance and importance, affecting every person on Earth.


While a 2019 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested the weakening of the AMOC over the century, its complete collapse before 2100 seemed unlikely. However, the new study analyzed a vast dataset, spanning from 1870 to 2020, to understand the behavior of the currents during a period without human-caused climate change. By examining sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic, scientists determined that the cooling in an area south of Greenland was indicative of the AMOC weakening, distinct from the impacts of global warming.


Overall, the findings are alarming, and they underscore the urgency of addressing climate change to protect the stability of this critical ocean current system.