With rising global temperatures and incoming disruptions in the global conveyor belt, the-day-after-tomorrow- nightmare may soon become reality, scientists believe. Eleven years after the movie’s premiere, sudden catastrophic climate events may be more than the salt and pepper of a Sci-Fi movie script.
According to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Earth may soon experience climate events that may bring irreversible damage at an unprecedented speed.
To this date, scientists hoped that climate change would continue in a ‘linear’ manner and our planet would gradually add some extra degrees as years go by. But the IPCC believes that we may soon witness non-linear changes in climate, or ‘tipping points’ that trigger irreversible climate disasters.
This was the main idea behind the 2014 The Day After Tomorrow disaster flick. According to the movie, melting glaciers in the Antarctic disrupted the North Atlantic Current leading to extreme weather events and a new global Ice Age.
When the movie was released, scientists believed that the story was unlikely if not impossible. But eleven years later, the-day-after-tomorrow- nightmare may soon become reality as early signs of emerging tipping points in the North Atlantic are no longer just a bad dream.
For instance, the North Atlantic Current, which is an extension of the Gulf Streem, transports warm salty water from the South Atlantic to the cooler reaches of the ocean. The current also help the U.S. and Europe to stay warm. Once the salty water reaches Arctic areas, it cools down and because it is denser it sinks below the fresh water released by melting ice caps. From there the current carries the water to warmer regions and the cycle restarts.
The Gulf Stream will keep bringing warmer water to the U.S. and Europe as long as the global conveyor belt keeps spinning. But if the belt no longer functions the whole system may collapse. As a result, the climate in northern latitudes may become even cooler and with a higher risk of devastating storms.
The global conveyor belt may stop to work properly if there is a major disruption such as the melting of a large chunk of ice in Greenland. But that scenario is already happening in our days.
Greenland pours into the ocean large amounts of fresh water every day. This water stays on top of salty water because it is lighter, and it also prevents the salty water carried by oceanic currents from the south to submerge and continue its trip, thus increasing the risk of a global conveyor belt shut down.
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