The Atlantic Ocean circulation that forms the Gulf Stream, the weather system responsible for warm and mild weather in Europe, reached its lowest point in over a millennium, and climate breakdown is the most likely reason for that, new data suggests.
The increased weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) could produce more storms in the UK, severe winters, and increased dangerous heat waves and droughts across the old continent.
Scientists believe that the AMOC will decrease further if global heating keeps manifesting and may reduce by between 34% to 45% by the end of the current century, which may bring us close to a “tipping point” at which the system may become fatally unstable.
A weakened Gulf Stream may also increase sea levels of the Atlantic coast of the US, with possibly disastrous consequences.
Stefan Rahmstorf, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who co-authored the study posted on Thursday in Nature Geoscience, stated that a weakening AMOC might increase the number severity of storms on Britain’s land and produce even more heatwaves in Europe.
Rahmstorf and fellow researchers from the Maynooth University in Ireland and University College London in the UK hypothesized that the current weakening is a premiere in the last thousand years after analyzing sediments, Greenland ice cores and other proxy data that showed past weather patterns over time. The AMOC has only been directly observed and measured since 2004.
The AMOC is extremely important. It is one of the planet’s most significant ocean circulation systems. It carries warm surface water from the Gulf of Mexico towards the north Atlantic, where it gets cooled and gets saltier until reaching the north of Iceland.