Important ocean currents that redistribute heat, cold, and precipitation between the tropics and the northernmost parts of the Atlantic region will shut down around the year 2060 if current greenhouse gas emissions persist.
Using advanced statistical tools and ocean temperature data from the last 150 years, the researchers 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.
The researchers’ prediction is based on observations of early warning signals that ocean currents exhibit as they become unstable.
The researchers analyzed sea surface temperatures in a specific area of the North Atlantic from 1870 to the present day.
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is part of a global system of ocean currents.
Reference: “Warning of a forthcoming collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation” by Peter Ditlevsen and Susanne Ditlevsen, 25 July 2023, Nature Communications.
The TiPES project is an EU Horizon 2020 interdisciplinary climate research project focused on tipping points in the climate system. »