Skip to main content

Livescience - August 6, 2021

One of the most crucial ocean current systems for regulating the Northern Hemisphere's climate could be on the verge of total collapse due to climate change, a new study has revealed.

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which includes the Gulf Stream and is responsible for moderating large parts of the world's climate, has undergone "an almost complete loss of stability over the last century", according to a new analysis. The currents work like a conveyor belt to transport warm, salty water northward from the tropics and cold water back south along the seafloor. This giant conveyor belt had already been shown to be at its weakest in more than a thousand years, but now it could be veering toward a total breakdown.

Such a collapse would have a disastrous impact on global weather systems, leading to sea-level rises in the Atlantic; greater cooling and more powerful storms across the Northern Hemisphere; and severe disruption to the rain that billions of people rely upon to grow crops in Africa, South America and India, according to the U.K.'s meteorological office.

Related: 10 signs that Earth's climate is off the rails ... Read full report at Livescience