General, Research, Technology

A record slowdown of the Gulf Stream has been recorded. What is the threat?

Stopping the warm sea current of the Gulf Stream,according to the results of a new study, it can lead to a cold snap in North America and Europe, and then on the entire planet. Interestingly, the concern of scientists about the weakening of the Gulf Stream reached its climax by 2005. Then researchers from the University of Southampton (UK) found that the North Atlantic Current weakened by a third. But subsequent measurements carried out by the same team did not reveal a clear trend and the forecasts of climatologists did not predict disaster. However, the results of the new study paint a "coherent picture" of changes in the Atlantic conveyor belt, which plays an important role in the world's weather. The current of the Atlantic Ocean, as scientists have found, is now weaker than at any time in the past 1000 years, and its further weakening could cause increased heat and more frequent extreme weather events on the European continent. According to the authors of the scientific work, global warming caused by human activity has largely contributed to the slowdown of the Gulf Stream.

Climatologists have shown that the Gulf Stream is slowing down, transporting less and less warm water to North America and Europe - and continues to weaken.

What's happening with the Gulf Stream?

“The Gulf Stream works like a giant conveyora belt that transports warm surface water from the equator to the north and sends cold, slightly salted deep water back to the south. It moves nearly 20 million cubic meters of water per second. This is almost a hundred times more than the Amazon's runoff, ”says Stefan Ramstorf, climatologist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and author of the new study, in an interview with Britain's The Independent.

To recreate a picture of how one ofThe main currents in the Atlantic meridional circulation system (AMOC) have changed over the past 1600 years, the authors of the scientific work combined a large array of data accumulated since 2004 - it was then that direct measurements of AMOS began. Note that scientists previously expressed concern that AMOS may "slow down", and, probably, the climate crisis plays its role in what is happening. In 2018, a study found that AMOS has weakened by about 15 percent since the mid-20th century.

Atlantic Ocean Currents Suddenly Slow Down for First Time in Millennium

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Now the results of the study,published in the journal Nature Geoscience, show that the Gulf Stream was relatively stable until the late 19th century. But with the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, the ocean currents began to decline, with a second, more dramatic decline in the mid-20th century.

To reconstruct the history of the Gulf Stream,the authors of the study from Ireland, the United Kingdom and Germany combined past data and analyzes from soil samples collected off the coast of Germany, Canada, Greenland and Iceland. The work found evidence that the slowdown in the Gulf Stream during the 20th century is “likely to be related to anthropogenic climate change” and “unprecedented in the past millennium.

“Instead of relying on only onedataset, we have combined a number of previous studies for the first time and found that they provide a consistent picture of the evolution of AMOC, ”said lead author Levke Caesar of the Icarus Climate Research Center at Maynooth University.

Climate change - the reason for the weakening of the Gulf Stream?

Note that the slowdown of AMOS has long beenpredicted by climate models as a response to global warming caused by greenhouse gases. The key process is what scientists call "deep sea formation" caused by differences in the density of ocean water: warm and salty water moves from south to north, where it cools and becomes denser.

The warm waters of the Gulf Stream as they pass the US East Coast.

According to the authors of the new study, the sharpthe decrease in the flow rate is caused by human impact on the environment. In the event that global warming accelerates, the ocean current could stop completely. Failure to tackle climate change could further weaken the Gulf Stream - by 34-45% by 2100, according to the latest generations of climate models.

See also: All models of climate change show that the catastrophe is rapidly approaching. But why?

British Antarctic Survey Oceanographer AndrewMeyers noted that prior to the beginning of anthropogenic influence on the climate, the general system of the Gulf Stream was more stable. It is now being significantly influenced by melting ice in Greenland and increased precipitation in North America. “This indicates that the slowdown is most likely not a natural change, but the result of human impact,” added Meyers, noting that the current will not stop in the next 100 years unless global warming sharply accelerates.

A still from the 2004 disaster film The Day After Tomorrow.

By the way, in 2004 came outthe apocalyptic film "The Day After Tomorrow", according to the plot of which literally in a few days the temperature on Earth dropped sharply and the territory of the United States turned into a snow-covered desert. The main character of the Hollywood blockbuster, a climate scientist, tries to find a way to stop global warming and goes in search of his son, who disappeared in frozen New York. Perhaps it's time to revise The Day After Tomorrow, not forgetting, of course, that in reality nothing of the kind should be expected - as climatologist Alexander Chernokulsky noted in an interview with, the slowdown of the Gulf Stream will not affect the weather, since the current, contrary to popular myth, does not warms Europe, and its effect on the weather is about 10%.