March 1, 2024

What will happen to the UK if the Gulf Stream collapses in 2025? Scientists warn Britain would be plunged into a deep freeze



It’s been 20 years since The Day After Tomorrow hit cinemas – and now scientists have warned that its terrifying plot could soon become reality.

The film depicts a massive “superstorm” triggered by the collapse of the Gulf Stream, which triggers catastrophic natural disasters and ushers in a new Ice Age on Earth.

In the blockbuster, characters are frozen beneath layers of snow, drowned in massive tsunamis, and dramatically crushed by vehicles thrown by tornadoes.

But what would actually happen here in the UK if the Gulf Stream collapsed?

Speaking to MailOnline, experts revealed how Britain would be plunged into a deep freeze – with winter conditions up to 15C colder than usual.

In the Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow (pictured), ocean currents around the world stop as a result of global warming, triggering a new ice age on Earth
In the blockbuster, characters are frozen beneath layers of snow, drowned in massive tsunamis and dramatically crushed by vehicles tossed about by tornadoes.

READ MORE: The Gulf Stream could COLLAPSE as early as 2025, study warns

The Gulf Stream is part of a much broader system of currents, officially called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which scientists say could collapse as early as 2025.

Described as “the ocean’s conveyor belt,” the AMOC transports warm water near the ocean’s surface northward from the tropics to the Northern Hemisphere.

Here in the UK, its collapse would cause temperatures to plummet, according to the professor David Thornalley, climate scientist at University College London.

“Sadly, people would die from severe winter storms and flooding, and many old and young people would be vulnerable to the very cold winter temperatures,” he told MailOnline.

Jonathan Bamber, professor of Earth observation at the University of Bristol, agreed that if the AMOC collapsed, the climate of northwest Europe would be “unrecognizable compared to what it is today”.

“It would be several degrees colder so winters would be more typical of Arctic Canada,” he told MailOnline.

Rene van Westen, a climate scientist and oceanographer at Utrecht University, predicts that in summer temperatures in the UK will be around 3°C to 5°C (5.4°F to 9°F) cooler than they are. now.

Collapse of AMOC: This would change the climate around the world because it would mean the shutdown of one of the planet’s main climate and ocean forces. This would reduce temperatures in northwestern Europe by 9 to 27 degrees (5 to 15 degrees Celsius) over the decades.
Formally known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), it feeds the Gulf Stream that brings warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to the northeast coast of the United States.

Why might AMOC collapse?

Scientists believe that melting glaciers could cause the AMOC, the ocean current system, to collapse.

Described as “the ocean’s conveyor belt,” the AMOC transports warm water near the ocean’s surface northward – from the tropics to the northern hemisphere.

Previous studies have already shown that, due to climate change, AMOC is slowing down.

The engine of this conveyor belt is off the coast of Greenland, where, as more ice melts due to climate change, more fresh water flows into the North Atlantic and slows everything down.

Meanwhile, winter temperatures can be 18°F to 27°F (10°C to 15°C) lower on average, although certain parts of Britain bear the brunt of this.

For example, if the average annual surface temperature over London fell by 12.6°F (7°C), the temperature change would be greater (up to -21.6°F/-12°C) further north, as in Scotland, van Westen said.

However, the effects in the UK would be smaller compared to other regions, according to Professor Thornalley.

In other parts of the world, a collapse of the AMOC would cause a shift in the tropical rain belt – an area of ​​rainfall that is positioned around the tropics.

‘[This] it would greatly disrupt agriculture and water supplies across large areas of the globe,” Professor Thornalley said.

“Many millions of people would be affected and suffer from drought, famine and floods, in countries already struggling to deal with these issues.

“There would be a large number of climate refugees and geopolitical tensions would increase.”

According to the new study, AMOC recently showed signs of trending towards a crucial “turning point”, which would soon be followed by collapse.

It is uncertain when exactly this turning point might occur, although it could be a matter of decades rather than centuries as previously assumed.

“At the moment we cannot say anything about the distance to an abrupt AMOC collapse (i.e. the Day After Tomorrow scenario),” van Westen told MailOnline.

“Our analysis only suggests that we are heading towards a tipping point.”

If the AMOC were to collapse, people in the UK would die from severe winter storms and flooding, and many elderly and young people would be vulnerable to the very cold winter temperatures. Pictured: A flooded street in Alconbury Weston, Cambridgeshire, this month
A collapse of the AMOC would cause a shift in the tropical rain belt – an area of ​​rainfall positioned around the tropics

In ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, a collapse occurs at AMOC in a matter of days and the fictional climate immediately changes to extreme cold, so the characters are completely unprepared.

Fortunately, such a rapid transition won’t happen in real life, said Penny Holliday, head of marine physics and ocean circulation at the National Oceanography Center in Southampton.

“If AMOC reaches an inflection point, it will happen over several decades at least,” she told MailOnline.

“However, an AMOC slowdown, whether fast-acting or occurring over many decades, will lead to the generation of more extreme and violent weather systems that have the potential to cause deaths and great damage.”

Is ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ an accurate portrayal of the future?

Paleoclimate records constructed from ice cores from Greenland have revealed that the AMOC circulation was, in fact, disrupted in the past and caused regional climate change, according to the University of Illinois.

This caused the area around Greenland to cool by 44 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the 2004 film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, New York City’s temperature dropped drastically to the point that a deep freeze appeared within one day.

Even a second off and the film’s characters would freeze to death.

Scientists say the film shows the change, which would take decades to observe, but note that temperatures would drop dramatically along the U.S. East Coast.

In the 2004 film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, New York City’s temperature dropped drastically to the point that a deep freeze appeared within one day. Scientists say the film shows the change, which would take decades to observe, but note that temperatures would drop dramatically along the U.S. East Coast.

Winters would become colder and storms more frequent, which would last longer throughout the year if the AMOC stopped today.

However, scientists say it’s not the cold temperatures we should prepare for, but rising sea levels that will have the biggest impact.

The increase would be caused by the accumulation of water along the east coast, which would have been pushed northward by surface flow.

But with the AMOC weakened or stopped, experts say sea levels around the North Atlantic Basin could rise by nearly 50 centimeters.

This would end up driving people living along the coast away from their homes and further inland to escape the floods.

A weakened AMOC would also decrease the amount of rainfall in the North Atlantic, which would cause intense droughts in areas that rarely experience such events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *