The Gulf Stream is responsible for transporting water from the tropical regions to the North Atlantic. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is one of the many ocean currents used in the process, and scientists discovered that it is losing its stability. According to a recent study, this major current is approaching a critical threshold, and there could be harsh consequences.
How does the AMOC work?
The AMOC transports warm tropical water to the northern hemisphere on the ocean surface, while at the same time, it transports cold water towards the southern hemisphere on the ocean bottom. These operations influence climates and temperatures worldwide. If the ocean current collapses, then weather systems might change. The study was published in Nature Climate Change, and scientists explain that AMOC is a major Atlantic current responsible for the circulation system.
The AMOC is losing its stability
Scientists used computer simulations and paleoclimate proxy records to determine the operation mode of this current. They determined that the current can have a strong more or a weaker one. When the current switches modes, the abrupt transition can create instability, leading to collapse. Data revealed that the AMOC is now at its weakest mode, and it is not clear if this happed due to instability or a change in mean circulation state. If scientists can find the cause, then they can determine if the transition is irreversible or not.
The analysis of the fingerprints left by the current on the salinity to the Atlantic Ocean, together with the sea-surface temperature, suggest that the current has been weakening for the last century, leading to a loss in stability. Climate change brings drastic consequences such as global warming and natural disasters. Global warming is responsible for the melting of the ice sheet in Greenland, and the freshwater resulted could have also caused an impact on ocean currents.