The following is an excerpt from Mary Papenfuss | April 13, 2018 | Huffingtonpost.com |
A key current in the planet’s ocean circulatory system, including the Atlantic’s Gulf Stream, is the weakest in at least 1,600 years ― a decline that could significantly worsen the effects of climate change, according to new research.
Two studies published in the journal Nature this week say the global system of ocean currents known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, has dropped in strength by some 15 percent since the mid-20th century to a record low.
The currents, part of the so-called global ocean conveyor belt, transport warm water from the equator to the North Atlantic, where heat released into the atmosphere warms western Europe. The cooler water then sinks and travels south in the deep ocean to Antarctica, and eventually back up to the equator.
A disruption in the system could have cataclysmic effects on weather patterns, including hurricanes, swings in temperatures and ocean levels, and even survival. The 2004 science fiction film “Day After Tomorrow” addressed catastrophic weather events triggered by a collapse of the AMOC.
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