The ocean current that keeps England warmer than southern Labrador, at the same latitude, is at much greater risk of slowing down or stopping than researchers previously thought, climatologists there and in France have concluded.
“For thousands of years, parts of northwest Europe have enjoyed a climate about 5ºC warmer than many other regions on the same latitude,” The Guardian writes, thanks to the “meridional overturning circulation (MOC), sometimes known also as the thermohaline circulation, which is the phenomenon behind the more familiar Gulf Stream that carries warmth from Florida to European shores. If it did slow, that could lead to a dramatic, unprecedented disruption of the climate system.”
Climatologists “now say there is an almost 50% chance that a key area of the North Atlantic could cool suddenly and rapidly, within the space of a decade, before the end of this century.” the paper writes, “much sooner and much faster than thought possible.” That cooling could short-circuit the meridional overturning circulation, cutting off the loop that flows past the British Isles.
Researchers from the University of Bordeaux and the University of Southampton analysed 40 climate models behind the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. Their findings, “in sharp contrast to the IPCC, put the probability of rapid North Atlantic cooling during this century at almost an even chance—nearly 50%.” Sea core records in several places have revealed that regional climates have shifted abruptly and dramatically, over time scales of a little more than a decade, in the past