Gulf Stream Could Collapse As Early As 2025, Mini Ice Age On the Way: Study

Agencies

As the devastating impacts of climate change unfold, one of its most ominous manifestations is the accelerating meltdown of glaciers worldwide. These icy behemoths, once thought to be eternal, are now succumbing to the relentless onslaught of rising global temperatures. And that could spell trouble for the entire planet, according to an old study that is again gaining traction. It says that the Gulf Stream could collapse due to melting glaciers as soon as 2025, shutting down of vital ocean current.

The Gulf Stream, a powerful ocean current originating in the Gulf of Mexico, plays a pivotal role in regulating the climate of the North Atlantic region. Its warm waters act as a natural conveyor belt, transporting heat from the Equator towards the poles and influencing weather patterns along its path.

Without this additional heat, the average temperature could drop by several degrees in North America, parts of Asia and Europe – as much as 10 degrees Celsius in a few decades. This will have a “severe and cascading consequences around the world”.

These include increase in storms, severe disruption in rain (that billions of people depend on for food) and rise in sea level on the eastern coast of North America – a scenario similar to what was shown in 2004 film ‘The Day After Tomorrow‘.

According to The Guardian, the study estimates a timescale for the collapse of the Gulf Stream between 2025 and 2095, with a central estimate of 2050, if global carbon emissions are not reduced.

“I think we should be very worried. This would be a very, very large change. The Amoc has not been shut off for 12,000 years,” said Professor Peter Ditlevsen, at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, who led the new study.

The Gulf Stream is part of a much wider system of currents, officially called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation or Amoc.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, used sea surface temperature data stretching back to 1870 (when the Little Ice Age ended) as a proxy for the change in strength of ocean currents over time. The researchers then mapped this data on to the path seen in systems that are approaching a particular type of tipping point called a “saddle-node bifurcation”. The data fitted “surprisingly well”, said Professor Ditlevsen.

The Gulf Stream plays a crucial role in regulating the climate of Western Europe, where its warm waters help moderate temperatures, particularly in the winter months. A slowdown or disruption of this current could lead to more extreme weather events, including colder winters and hotter summers, with potentially devastating consequences for agriculture, infrastructure and public health.

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