A sibling team of scientists is predicting that certain Atlantic Ocean currents will shut down around the year 2060 if current greenhouse gas emissions persist.
In a new study, researcher Peter Ditlevsen and his sister Susanne Ditlevsen from the University of Copenhagen predict that the system of ocean currents which currently distributes cold and heat between the North Atlantic region and the tropics will completely stop if we continue to emit the same levels of greenhouse gases as we do today.
Using advanced statistical tools and ocean temperature data from the last 150 years, the siblings calculated that the ocean current, known as the Thermohaline Circulation or the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), will collapse – with 95 percent certainty – between 2025 and 2095. This will most likely occur in 34 years, in 2057, and could result in major challenges, particularly warming in the tropics and increased storminess in the North Atlantic region.
According to Peter Ditlevsen:
“Shutting down the AMOC can have very serious consequences for Earth’s climate, for example, by changing how heat and precipitation are distributed globally. While a cooling of Europe may seem less severe as the globe as a whole becomes warmer and heat waves occur more frequently, this shutdown will contribute to an increased warming of the tropics, where rising temperatures have already given rise to challenging living conditions.
“Our result underscores the importance of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.”
Their calculations, just published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, contradict the message of the latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which, based on climate model simulations, considers an abrupt change in the thermohaline circulation very unlikely during this century.
Check out the Ditlevens’ full report here.