The study, in the journal Nature, says it may be a response to increased melting ice and is likely to continue. A significant shift in the system of ocean currents that helps keep parts of Europe warm could send temperatures in the UK lower, scientists have found.
They say the Atlantic Ocean circulation system is weaker now than it has been for more than 1,000 years – and has changed significantly in the past 150. The study, in the journal Nature, says it may be a response to increased melting ice and is likely to continue.Researchers say that could have an impact on Atlantic ecosystems.
Scientists involved in the Atlas project – the largest study of deep Atlantic ecosystems ever undertaken – say the impact will not be of the order played out in the 2004 Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow.
But they say changes to the conveyor-belt-like system – also known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc) – could cool the North Atlantic and north-west Europe and transform some deep-ocean ecosystems. That could also affect temperature-sensitive species like coral, and even Atlantic cod.
Scientists believe the pattern is a response to fresh water from melting ice sheets being added to surface ocean water, meaning those surface waters “can’t get very dense and sink”. “That puts a spanner in this whole system,” lead researcher Dr David Thornalley, from University College London, explained.
The concept of this system “shutting down” was featured in The Day After Tomorrow.
“Obviously that was a sensationalised version,” said Dr Thornally. “But much of the underlying science was correct, and there would be significant changes to climate it if did undergo a catastrophic collapse – although the film made those effects much more catastrophic, and happening much more quickly – than would actually be the case.”
Nonetheless, a change to the system could cool the North Atlantic and north-west Europe and transform some deep-ocean ecosystems.
That is why its measurement has been a key part of the Atlas project. Scientists say understanding what is happening to Amoc will help them make much more accurate forecasts of our future climate.
Prof Murray Roberts, who co-ordinates the Atlas project at the University of Edinburgh, told BBC News: “The changes we’re seeing now in deep Atlantic currents could have massive effects on ocean ecosystems.
“The deep Atlantic contains some of the world’s oldest and most spectacular cold-water coral reef and deep-sea sponge grounds.
“These delicate ecosystems rely on ocean currents to supply their food and disperse their offspring. Ocean currents are like highways spreading larvae throughout the ocean and we know these ecosystems have been really sensitive to past changes in the Earth’s climate.”
To gauge how the framework has moved over long timescales, specialists gathered long centers of silt from the ocean depths.
The dregs was set around past sea streams, so the extent of the silt grains in various layers gave a measure of the flow’s quality after some time.
The outcomes were likewise moved down by another examination distributed in a similar issue of Nature, drove by analysts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.
This work took a gander at atmosphere demonstrate information to affirm that ocean surface temperature examples can be utilized as a pointer of Amoc’s quality and uncovering that it has been debilitating significantly more quickly since 1950 in light of late an unnatural weather change.
The researchers need to keep on studying designs in this significant temperature-controlling framework, to comprehend whether as ice sheets keep on melting, this could drive encourage log jam – or even a shutdown of a framework that manages our atmosphere.
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