Part of Gulf Stream at risk as Atlantic Ocean currents weaken

Written by on August 6, 2021

Scientists warn of catastrophic consequences if the AMOC system, which influences weather worldwide, collapses.

The Atlantic Ocean’s current system, an engine of the Northern Hemisphere’s climate, could be weakening due to climate change, which could have severe consequences for the world’s weather including  “extreme cold” in Europe and parts of North America and rising sea levels in parts of the United States, according to a new scientific study.

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is part of a large system of ocean currents, known as the Gulf Stream, that transports warm water from the tropics northwards into the North Atlantic.

As the atmosphere warms due to increased greenhouse gas emissions, the surface ocean beneath retains more heat. A potential collapse of the system could have severe consequences for the world’s weather systems, according to the study.

If the AMOC collapsed, it would increase cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, contributing to rising sea levels in the Atlantic, an overall 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 a climate crisis “abyss”, as Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged countries to “end our war on nature”.


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