Findings from the groundbreaking research were published in Nature Communications.
The world’s critical system of ocean currents might be on the brink of collapse sooner than anticipated, presenting a possible global catastrophe due to the escalating climate crisis, says a new study.
The study suggests that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a crucial system that includes the Gulf Stream, could potentially cease around the mid-century or possibly as soon as 2025.
Renowned climate scientists unaffiliated with the study have agreed on the decreased stability of the current, though they also advise a level of restraint when interpreting the research outcomes.
The AMOC, often depicted as an oceanic conveyor belt, comprises currents that transport warm waters from the northern to the southern hemisphere and vice versa. The circulation process happens over an extended period, facilitating a significant cycle within the Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, this system is responsible for carrying essential nutrients vital for sustaining marine life.
The Gulf Stream, a part of the AMOC and an extensively understood segment, is a wind-propelled current crucial for maintaining a warm climate in considerable parts of Europe and Florida’s east coast, as per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The NOAA affirms that England would experience a significantly “colder climate” in the absence of the warm waters facilitated by the Gulf Stream.
According to experts, the predicted collapse of the AMOC raises “major concern” since it is identified as one of the vital tipping elements within the Earth’s climate system.
For their research, scientists from the University of Copenhagen utilised sea surface temperature data dating back to 1870. This data was used to trace changes in the Gulf Stream’s currents across the years and predict when a potential tipping point could occur.
In the past, scientists have raised concerns over several studies that indicated a swift deceleration of the AMOC.
However, it’s worth noting that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that the Gulf Stream isn’t likely to collapse within this century. The panel expects the current to “weaken but not cease,” adding a somewhat optimistic note to the unsettling predictions.