Wednesday February 8, 2023


The University of California, Irvine Earth system scientists have found that the Atlantic and Southern oceans’ deep circulation patterns are slowing down due to climate-driven heating of seawater. If this continues, the ocean’s ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will be greatly hindered, intensifying the effects of global warming.

A recent study published in Nature Climate Change by these researchers found that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and the Southern Meridional overturning Circulation may slow by up to 42% by 2100. The worst-case scenario of the simulations even suggests that the SMOC could completely stop by 2300.

“Analysis of the projections from 36 Earth system models over a range of climate scenarios shows that unchecked global warming could lead to a shutdown of the ocean deep circulation,” said co-author J. Keith Moore, UCI professor of Earth system science. “This would be a climate disaster similar in magnitude to the complete melting of the ice sheets on land.”

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