by P. Gosselin, Apr 30, 2022 in NoTricksZone
New studies on the Atlantic current system assess the threshold between natural fluctuations and a climate change-driven evolution
Is the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) slowing down? Is this system of ocean currents, which is so important for our climate, likely to come to a halt in the future? Are the observed variations a natural phenomenon or are they already caused by human-induced climate change? Researchers from various scientific disciplines use a wide range of methods to better understand the gigantic oceanic circulation.
“The AMOC provides Europe with a mild climate and determines seasonal rainfall patterns in many countries around the Atlantic. If it weakens over the long term, this will also affect our weather and climate. Other consequences could be a faster rise in sea levels at some coasts or a reduction in the ocean’s ability to take up carbon dioxide and mitigate climate change”, Professor Dr. Mojib Latif, Head of the Research Unit: Marine Meteorology at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, explains. “We depend on the AMOC in many ways – but so far, we can only guess how it will develop, and whether and how strongly we humans ourselves will push it towards a tipping point where an unstoppable collapse will take its course.”
Using observational data, statistical analyses and model calculations, a team led by Professor Latif has therefore examined changes in the current system over the past one hundred years in greater detail. The results have now been published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change. According to the researchers, part of the North Atlantic is cooling – a striking contrast to the majority of ocean regions. All evaluations indicate that since the beginning of the 20th century, natural fluctuations have been the primary reason for this cooling. Nonetheless, the studies indicate that the AMOC has started to slow down in recent decades.