Part of Gulf Stream in danger as Atlantic Ocean currents weaken

Scientists warn of catastrophic penalties if AMOC system, which influences climate worldwide, collapses.

The Atlantic Ocean’s present system, an engine of the Northern Hemisphere’s local weather, may very well be weakening as a consequence of local weather change, which may have extreme penalties for the world’s climate together with  “extreme cold” in Europe and components of North America and rising sea ranges in components of the United States, based on a brand new scientific examine.

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is a component of a big system of ocean currents, often called the Gulf Stream, that transports heat water from the tropics northwards into the North Atlantic.

“The loss of dynamical stability would imply that the AMOC has approached its critical threshold, beyond which a substantial and in practice likely irreversible transition to the weak mode could occur,” mentioned Niklas Boers on the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and creator of the examine printed on Thursday.

As the environment warms as a consequence of elevated greenhouse gasoline emissions, the floor ocean beneath retains extra warmth. A possible collapse of the system may have extreme penalties for the world’s climate techniques, based on the examine.

If the AMOC collapsed, it could enhance cooling within the Northern Hemisphere, contribute to rising sea ranges within the Atlantic, an total fall in precipitation over Europe and North America and a shift in monsoons in South America and Africa, Britain’s Meteorological or Met Office warned.

In April, the United Nations had warned that the world is on the verge of local weather disaster “abyss”, as Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged nations to “end our war on nature”.

Climate change has been blamed for the intense climate circumstances that has hit components of the world in current weeks and months – from the lethal wildfires in Turkey and Greece to the flooding in lots of components of Asia together with China, the place greater than 300 died.

Climate fashions have already proven that the AMOC is at its weakest in additional than a 1,000 years.

However, it has not been recognized whether or not the weakening is because of a change in circulation or a lack of stability.

The examine, printed within the journal Nature Climate Change, mentioned the distinction is essential.

By analysing the sea-surface temperature and salinity patterns of the Atlantic Ocean, the examine mentioned the weakening of the final century was extra prone to be related to a lack of stability. The scientists mentioned the world ought to do all it may to maintain emissions as little as attainable.

“The findings support the assessment that the AMOC decline is not just a fluctuation or a linear response to increasing temperatures but likely means the approaching of a critical threshold beyond which the circulation system could collapse,” Boers mentioned.

A person stands in entrance of a wave as a storm surge from the Atlantic Ocean hits a break wall throughout Winter Storm Grayson in Cow Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada in 2018 [File: Darren Calabrese/Reuters]

Other local weather fashions have mentioned the AMOC will weaken over the approaching century however {that a} collapse earlier than 2100 is unlikely.

A separate examine printed within the September 2021 version of the Weather and Climate Extremes journal discovered that the will increase in excessive precipitation after 1996 had been brought on by greenhouse gases from human exercise and a hotter Atlantic Ocean, which creates stronger and extra frequent hurricanes.

“Our previous work has shown that Northeast extreme precipitation has increased dramatically over the past 25 years, but this study is among the first to demonstrate that this rise is partially due to anthropogenic climate change,” lead creator Huanping Huang, a postdoctoral fellow within the Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was quoted as saying by the Dartmouth College article printed within the web site Phys.org.

“Our results demonstrate that multidecadal variability in Atlantic sea surface temperatures, an important driver of warming in the Atlantic, alongside anthropogenic greenhouse gases and aerosols, also contributed to the increase in Northeast extreme precipitation after 1996,” Huang mentioned.

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