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Study sounds alarms about collapse of crucial 'conveyor belt' ocean current system: 'There is still large uncertainty'

Collapse seems to be coming sooner than originally anticipated.

Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation collapse

Photo Credit: iStock

A new study has forecast a system of ocean currents crucial to the stability of our climate could collapse by the middle of the century, with more notable shifts estimated between 2025 and 2095.

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, takes warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic (and cold water south), but climate change could soon lead to it breaking down, resulting in a number of weather-related issues across the globe. 

What's happening?

Research published in the journal Nature Communications has warned that the collapse of the AMOC could occur sooner than expected because of climate change that is shown to be human-caused

The AMOC is described as the "conveyor belt" for ocean water and air in a USA Today report, which also notes how warm, salty water from the tropics heads north, passing along the Gulf Stream off the U.S. East Coast. The current then cools in the North Atlantic and travels south.

This natural phenomenon increases temperatures in northern Europe by a few degrees while bringing cold water to North America's coast.  

Its potential collapse is described as a potential "tipping point" that could lead to significant shifts in our weather systems and climate that will bring notable challenges worldwide.

Why is the possible collapse of the AMOC so concerning?

Some of the concerns that could result from the AMOC's collapse, as explained by USA Today, include an ice age in Europe (other outlets mention similarities to past ice ages), sea-level rise in Boston and New York City, and the strengthening of hurricanes and storms impacting the East Coast of the United States.

"There is still large uncertainty where the tipping point of the AMOC is, but the new study adds to the evidence that it is much closer than we thought just a few years ago," climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf told the publication. 

What can I do to help prevent the AMOC's collapse?

Peter Ditlevsen, co-author of the study, told USA Today, "Our result underscores the importance of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible."

With that in mind, any effort to reduce our reliance on dirty energy will help.

The U.S. government announced new records for clean energy deployment in 2021, with solar- and wind-powered projects providing enough energy to power 10 million homes. 

But generating clean energy at home is also becoming increasingly achievable thanks to improving technology, availability, and cheaper options. 

Portable solar panels are one of the latest trends that can help you to create clean energy at home or when you're out and about and lessen your reliance on gas, coal, and oil.

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