World - The slowing down of ocean currents could have a devastating effect on our climate
CNN — Remember the movie, "The Day After Tomorrow," in which a catastrophic series of global disasters strike after climate change causes the world's ocean currents to stop?
Well, new research reveals Earth's major ocean currents are slowing down, and though the consequences will not be as immediate or dramatic as in the Hollywood fiction, there are real-world impacts for global weather patterns and sea levels.
The slowdown of ocean circulation is directly caused by warming global temperatures and has been predicted by climate scientists.
"This has been predicted, basically, for decades that this circulation would weaken in response to global warming. And now we have the strongest evidence that this is already happening," said Stefan Rahmstorf of Potsdam University who contributed to this research.
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) transports water across the planet's oceans, including the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian. The region contributing to the slowdown is the North Atlantic, according to the research.
"The idea (of this film), which is actually correct, is that if this Atlantic overturning circulation breaks down all together, this will lead to a strong cooling around the northern Atlantic, especially into Europe, into the kind of coastal areas (of) Britain and Scandinavia. But that's only true if the overturning breaks down all together," Rahmstorf said.
In this part of the ocean, the Greenland ice sheets are melting, contributing to both a rise in sea levels and serving to reduce the speed of the circulation.