The prospect of the Gulf Stream slowing down and even stopping altogether has worried many experts in recent years.
Some believed that this would cause a rapid cooling around the world with resulting global chaos.But a new study finds the Gulf Stream go-slow will have a significant impact on planetary temperatures, but not in a chilled out way.
The Gulf Stream is an ocean current that keeps the UK warmer than it would be given its latitude alone.Researchers say a slower current will carry less heat down to the deep oceans meaning more will enter the atmosphere.
Worries over the fate of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc), of which the Gulf Stream is part, were graphically illustrated in the 2004 film, The Day After Tomorrow.
It focused on a sudden collapse of the Amoc caused by global warming leading to a disastrous freezing and the dawning of a new ice age.So much for Hollywood – the reality according to the corresponding author of this new study is very different.
“The headlines have said that the Gulf Stream is collapsing and the Ice Age is coming sooner than scientists think,” Prof Ka-Kit Tung from the University of Washington told BBC News.Instead Prof Tung and his colleagues have reconstructed what’s happened with the flow of the Amoc over the past 70 years. They found a natural pattern with declines, flat periods and increases over the decades.