The Gulf Stream is even closer to a full stop than previously thought

The Gulf Stream is even closer to a full stop than previously thought
The Gulf Stream is even closer to a full stop than previously thought
6 August 2021, 17:39SciencePhoto: Daily Express
German climatologists have found that the melting snow cover in Greenland is slowing the Atlantic current so much that it is closer to a standstill than ever. This threatens to become one of the turning points in the history of the Earth and lead to dramatic consequences.

The Gulf Stream is part of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOK), a kind of giant conveyor that transports warm surface waters from the equator to the north and cold, slightly saline deep waters in the opposite direction. AIOC regulates the climate on both sides of the Atlantic and mitigates its extreme manifestations.

Staff at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research have found that AIOC has nearly lost its stability over the past century, according to The Guardian. The currents in it are weaker now than at any time in the past 1,600 years, and dangerously close to a standstill. If this happens, the consequences for the entire world will be catastrophic. Temperatures will drop in Europe and more storms will occur. India, South America and Africa will experience even less rains, which depend on the harvest and survival of billions of people. In North America, sea levels will rise, threatening to flood coastal cities. The Amazon rainforest and the Antarctic ice sheet will be threatened. The stop of AIOC refers to the turning points - large-scale, rapid and irreversible climate changes that threaten a civilizational catastrophe.

AIOC can have two states - fast and strong, as it has been for the last millennia, and slow and weak. At the same time, the current can go from one state to another due to an increase in temperature on Earth in 10-50 years. The stability of AIOC depends on the seawater coming from the Arctic Ocean, but the intense melting of fresh water in the Greenland ice sheet is increasingly interfering with the process. Over the past decades, AIOC has almost lost its stability and is about to go into a weak circulation regime.

The AIOC system is very complex, and this does not allow us to accurately predict the onset of a turning point. It can happen both within the next decade and in the next century. However, in any case, action must be taken without delay. To do this, first of all, it is necessary to reduce carbon dioxide emissions: the likelihood that AIOC will rise increases with each new gram of CO2 in the atmosphere.

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