The study, now published in the journal Nature Climate Change, looks at the Atlantic overturning current, which also includes the Gulf Stream. This current transports warm water masses from the tropics on the sea surface to the north and cold waters on the sea floor to the south. This is very important for the relatively mild temperatures in Europe, the report says.
According to the study, the current system is currently “weaker than at any time in the past 1,000 years,” says study author Niklas Boers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. It remains unclear whether this is just a change in the mean trading condition or a real loss of dynamic stability – but this difference is crucial, Boyer explains. Low stability could mean that the Atlantic current has approached a critical threshold beyond which the entire circulation system can collapse.
But one thing is certain for the researcher: even if the significance of the various factors still needs to be investigated, they are certainly “associated with man-made climate change.”
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