A scientific study warned Thursday that the current system in the Atlantic Ocean, a climate driver in the Northern Hemisphere, may be weakening so much that it will soon cause major changes in the world’s climate.
The South Atlantic Solstice (Amoc) circulation is a vast system of ocean currents that transport warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic.
As the atmosphere warms due to increased greenhouse gas emissions, the surface of the ocean beneath it retains more heat. A potential system collapse could have severe consequences for the planet’s climate systems.
Climate models show that Amoc has never been weaker over 1,000 years, but it is unclear whether the weakening is due to a change in circulation or whether it has something to do with the loss of stability.
The difference is significant, said the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
“The loss of dynamic stability means that AMOC is approaching a critical threshold, after which an intrinsic, efficient and irreversible transition to the weak mode can occur,” said Niclas Bowers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and author of the study.
By analyzing sea surface temperature and salinity patterns in the Atlantic, the study said the weakening in the past century is likely linked to the loss of stability.
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