A critical system of Atlantic Ocean currents may be on the brink of collapse, raising concerns among scientists about the potential impact on global climate. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), responsible for transporting heat and salt through the global ocean, has shown signs of trending toward a crucial “tipping point,” according to a study published in the journal Science Advances.
The weakening of the currents’ strength by rising temperatures has long been a concern, and the study predicts devastating effects if a collapse were to occur. If a collapse occurs, some parts of Europe could see average temperatures decrease by 30 degrees Celsius over a century. This could happen over the course of just decades, with February temperatures in Norway dropping by 3.5 degrees Celsius per decade.
The Amazon rainforest is also expected to experience drastic changes in its precipitation patterns if the AMOC collapses. This could lead to a disruption of the forest ecosystem, with the dry season becoming the wet season and vice versa. Scientists have warned that this could severely impact the Amazon rainforest.
In 2021, a separate study published by Nature Geoscience revealed that the AMOC was at its weakest point in the last 1,000 years. The potential collapse of the system is a matter of global concern, with Peter de Menocal of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts noting that it would affect every person on the planet and is of immense importance.