Climate change is killing off a vital ocean current system and it could spark permanent droughts and extreme winters, scientists say
- A key system of Atlantic Ocean currents may collapse anytime between 2025 and 2095, a new study found.
- This would result in weather pattern changes that could affect "every person on the planet," one expert told CNN.
A key system of ocean currents will likely collapse in the next few decades, scientists say, leading to disastrous weather conditions across the globe.
This system — the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current, which includes the Gulf Stream — has been under careful watch by scientists for several years. In 2019, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted the stream would collapse sometime after 2100.
However, scientists are now reporting "with high confidence" that the system could collapse anytime between 2025 and 2095, with the most likely window landing between 2039 and 2070, according to a new study.
"It's really scary," Peter Ditlevsen — a co-author on the study and professor of climate physics — told CNN.
The effects of such a collapse could include permanent drought in Western Africa, extreme winters in Western Europe, and disruptions to monsoon patterns in India, South America, and Western Africa, CNN reported in 2021. The collapse could also trigger a rapid rise in sea levels across the globe.
Peter de Menocal, president of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, told CNN the collapse "would affect every person on the planet."
The authors of the study included recommendations to mitigate the collapse of the system, including immediate moves to eliminate planet-warming pollution.
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