The weather in Boston for the Marathon was pretty bad. How bad? Well, it wasn’t a disaster, but it was miserable.
As bad as that weather was, the title of this post isn’t about that weather — it is about a different weather related story that is all over the news. Almost every major new outlet is covering two studies published in the journal Nature last week that have documented the slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC, Science).
Of course, a significant percentage of the stories make sensationalist reference to the infamous movie The Day After Tomorrow (IMDb) (Wikipedia) because that movie happened to use the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation as the basis of its premise for a preposterous, apocalyptic scenario.
While the predictions from the real science aren’t nearly so drastic (or dramatic), they are scary in their own way and deserve some serious attention. Here’s a short clip from a news broadcast in Miami that gives a quick thumbnail view of one of the two studies that were published in Nature.
The journal Nature also published a summary article and an editorial to contextualize the two studies that both reported on the variability using different approaches. Both studies conclude that the AMOC has slowed down, but they differ in methods and details about how and when the slowdown started.
North Atlantic circulation slows down (Summer K. Praetorius, Nature)
Ocean circulation is changing, and we need to know why (Editorial, Nature)
Here are links to one of the studies being discussed.
Atlantic Ocean circulation at weakest point in more than 1,500 years (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, AAAS Eurekalert)
Anomalously weak Labrador Sea convection and Atlantic overturning during the past 150 years (David J. R. Thornalley et. al, Nature)
Here is a video about the other study that features two of the authors from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research .
Here is a link to the study in Nature that they discussed.
Observed fingerprint of a weakening Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation (L. Caesar et. al., Nature)
So, the long-term weather outlook isn’t quite as dramatic as implied by the title of this post, but it isn’t great, either!