The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, or short AMOC, is basically a big stream in the Atlantic Ocean. Warm, salty water from the aequator travels northwards on the surface of the ocean, driven by the wind. On the way it passes by the east of north America and west Europe, warming up the climate in this regions. As the water comes closer to the poles where the air is colder, it cooles down. Some of the water even turns to ice, which makes the remaining water even saltier. The salty, cold water is so heavy, that it sinks down to the ground of the ocean. There was off course already water on the ground, which is now pushed aside and flows southwards passing greenland. As you can imagine, this stream is very powerful. So how is it possible it might change?
There are several reasons, but the most important one is climate change. The earth is warming up , more ice is melting, and more rain is falling. This fresh water flows into the ocean, making it less salty right where it is supposed to be saltiest. Fresh water is lighter and doesn’t sink to the ground of the ocean. If no water sinks to the ground of the ocean, warm water from the south can’t travel northwards; there is simply no space. This process might stop the whole stream. While the earth won’t suddenly turn into a deadly ice desert like the movie „A day after tomorrow“ suggests, we can predict drastic consequences if we cannot stop the ice caps from melting further; for wildlife and all of us.
Hannah Bollmann is a second semester student of Science Communication in Kleve, Germany. In this study course, she can connect her passion for storytelling and art with her curiosity towards everything that has to do with science.
Hannah is a bit of a nature-nerd, which is why she thinks it is important for everyone to talk about the various impacts of climate change on our planet.
The voice you can hear in the audio belongs to Liz Teschner, who is a Science Communication student as well.
A voice from the Triangulation through Science Communication project.