The Gulf Stream has a crucial role in the development of the climate and it is particularly important for sustaining the weather auspicious for life in the northern countries, such as Great Britain. Unfortunately, the newest research has revealed changes in the behaviour of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation which might have a serious impact on the climate of this part of the world. Furthermore, in all likelihood, these changes are induced by the global warming process caused by the human’s activity.
Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and its importance for our planet
First of all, let’s understand what Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) exactly is.
The name Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation is used for referring to ocean currents of a particularly large scale. These currents are located in the top part of the Atlantic ocean.
AMOC is transporting heat and salty waters on the Earth. The waters of these currents are warm in the region of the Atlantic ocean, however, when they reach the northern part of the globe, the waters become rather cold and dense since the amount of salts increases. This makes the waters of AMOC sink down to the level which is nearly a thousand of kilometres below the surface of the water. In such a way, the currents are flowing back to the southern part of the world.
What is the role of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation on the Earth?
As you can imagine, the waters of the AMOC currents are in a sort of a loop. While circling like that around the planet, the currents are transporting heat which is absolutely crucial for stabilising the climate on the Earth.
You can compare AMOC to a radiator system of a particularly huge size. It is taking the heat from the tropical part of the world reducing the temperature there making the place less hot and thus, more suitable for leaving. Then, the currents are taking this heat to the colder part of the Earth distributing it in the region where Canada, Greenland, the UK and Iceland are located. As you can imagine, the heat stored in the waters of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation helps to warm these areas up which is also crucial for people to be able to live in these areas.
Obviously, the role of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation is balancing the temperature in various parts of the world.
What is happening with AMOC now?
Unfortunately, scientists have found that the currents are slowing down now. Although the changes are not thus rapid, there is a clear trend.
There is a clear connection between the activity of people especially such as the emission of CO2 to the atmosphere. Currently, it is difficult to predict the exact pattern of changes for the speed of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation since it depends on the amount of emissions.
If people manage to reduce the amount of gases released to the atmosphere, it is possible that the shift in the currents will not be thus drastic. Yet, if the emission remains on its high level, it can cause a rapid and dramatic change in the behaviour of the currents.
The issue of the concern of researchers is the time when the currents reach their lowest level. In the second scenario of high emissions of CO2 on the Earth, this moment can happen even in just fifty years.
What exactly will happen to the Earth with the decrease in the speed of AMOC?
Predicting the exact outcome of the changes which are now taking place in AMOC is rather complicated because it is a part of the entire system of the ocean and the atmosphere.
There is a high possibility that the decrease in the speed of the currents will simply cool down the west parts of the ocean. Certainly, this means the whole heat distribution will slow down. For such countries as the UK it will mean getting wetter and warmer as well as being prone to more extreme weather.
There is also another possibility. If the currents slow down significantly, they can move to the north location of the UK. This will make the climate drier taking the movements which usually cause storms away from the UK.
Unfortunately, it is difficult right now to predict the exact possibilities for the weather changes coming with the AMOC slowing down.
How is slowing down of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation connected to humans?
The activity of humans on the Earth has a great impact on its atmosphere which results is various ways. many of these results are not obvious to the majority of people, however, they are connected to the global warming caused by people.
When it comes to the decrease of the speed of the AMOC, the most possible reason causing this change is ice melting which is taking around Arctic. This makes the waters of the currents less salty which decreases their density and leads to the changes in the water movements.