11 February 2024

We are Unbelievably Screwed

A helpful illustration
It appears that anthropogenic climate change is already shutting down the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).

The Gulf Stream is a part of this phenomenon, and if this all shuts down, we will see extreme climate change in Europe and the east coast of the United States:


Twenty years after the movie’s
[The Day After Tomorrow] release, we know a lot more about the Atlantic Ocean’s circulation. Instruments deployed in the ocean starting in 2004 show that the Atlantic Ocean circulation has observably slowed over the past two decades, possibly to its weakest state in almost a millennium. Studies also suggest that the circulation has reached a dangerous tipping point in the past that sent it into a precipitous, unstoppable decline, and that it could hit that tipping point again as the planet warms and glaciers and ice sheets melt.

In a new study using the latest generation of Earth’s climate models, we simulated the flow of fresh water until the ocean circulation reached that tipping point.

The results showed that the circulation could fully shut down within a century of hitting the tipping point, and that it’s headed in that direction. If that happened, average temperatures would drop by several degrees in North America, parts of Asia and Europe, and people would see severe and cascading consequences around the world. 

We also discovered a physics-based early warning signal that can alert the world when the Atlantic Ocean circulation is nearing its tipping point.

The consequences are catestrophic, with temperature changes in Europe overall being on the order of  5° C per decade, as versus the 0.2° C per decade currently observed, and parts of Norway could experience temperature drops of 20° C.

The original paper can be found here.


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