The Atlantic reversal meridian circulation is an essential part of the Earth’s energy balance which regulates the climate.
Millions of Americans flock to the Atlantic Ocean beaches along the country’s east coast for summer vacations. The warm waters and the scorching sun combine to create a relaxing experience. But, while they relax, the Atlantic Ocean is working hard.
The global water conveyor belt circles the planet. It carries water across the Earth’s oceans. In the northern and western hemisphere, it is called the Atlantic Meridional Reversal Circulation (AMOC).
AMOC is an essential element of the Earth’s energy balance which regulates the climate.
The sun heats the water near the equator, making it saltier by evaporation. The hot water then flows north. As it approached the tip of Florida, its name was changed to “Gulf Stream”. This current of warmer water then turns and crosses the Atlantic Ocean towards Europe.
As the water crosses the deep Atlantic northward, its temperature drops and the water becomes denser. The cooler, denser water begins to flow to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Once it reaches the bottom of the ocean, the dense cold waters begin to flow south toward the equator. When it happens, the process starts all over again.
A new scientific study reports that proxy data shows that AMOC is slowing down and may stop leaking. The ramifications would alter life in the northern hemisphere.
In the 2004 hit film, “The Day After”, the plot suggested dramatic drops in temperature, destructive storms, and rising seawater levels.
As shown in the film, the human-caused rise in global temperature has resulted in the melting of the polar ice caps. In real life, glaciers and similar large-scale ice caps are melting in Greenland. Last month, enough ice melted in Greenland to flood all of Florida with 2 inches of water.
The meltwater of these glaciers and ice caps is fresh water. When it empties into the North Atlantic Ocean, it is less dense due to the lack of salt. This causes the new water to float and not sink to the bottom, disrupting the AMOC cycle.
AMOC hasn’t stopped moving yet, but it is sinking at its slowest pace in 1,000 years.
He has stopped at least once before. The last known period was at the end of the most recent ice age. A large amount of fresh water from a North American glacier flooded the Atlantic Ocean.
The results were catastrophic for Europe and North America. It caused a significant rise in sea level which flooded the coasts of the continents. Temperatures have plunged on both sides of the Atlantic. The cold temperatures prevented the plants from growing. Along the equator, temperatures rose dramatically as hot water did not flow from the area.
The size of the AMOC makes it difficult to tell if it is still moving or if it is stopping. Unlike the movie, the ramifications will not be instantaneous, but will happen like thousands of years ago.