A recently published study found that the Atlantic Ocean’s Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which creates the Gulf Stream, is edging closer to a tipping point, with climate change causing it to weaken over time.
If it were to ever shut off completely, much of North America and Europe could be plunged into freezing temperatures for hundreds if not thousands of years.
In a recently published paper, climate scientist Niklas Boers found that it’s becoming more and more likely that the AMOC will shut off abruptly.
The system is responsible for circulating warm surface flow from the tropical regions to Europe and Greenland via the Atlantic, where it cools down and sinks to the ocean floor.
Without this conveyor belt-like system in action, much of North America’s East Coast and Europe would be plunged into a not-quite ice age of freezing temperatures.
The last time the AMOC was shut down, in fact, was during the most recent ice age, caused by a massive ice lake bursting, with a flood of freshwater spilling into the Atlantic.
Reference- Nature, IPCC Report, National Geographic, Clean Technica