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Unstable Atlantic deep ocean circulation under future climate conditions

A new study asks if changes in the future will be spasmodic and abrupt rather than a more gradual increase in the temperature.

Uni Research


Today, deep waters formed in the northern North Atlantic fill approximately half of the deep ocean globally. In the process, this impacts on the circum-Atlantic climate, regional sea level, and soak up much of the excess atmospheric carbon dioxide from industrialisation — helping to moderate the effects of global warming. Changes in this circulation mode are considered a potential tipping point in future climate change that could have widespread and long-lasting impacts including on regional sea level, the intensity and pacing of Sahel droughts, and the pattern and rate of ocean acidification and CO2 sequestration.

Until now, this pattern of circulation has been considered relatively stable during warm climate states such as those projected for the end of the century. A new study led by researchers from the Bjerknes Centre of Climate Research at the University of Bergen (UiB) and Uni Research suggests that Atlantic deep water formation may be much more fragile than previously realised.

Read more about this on our website: uni.no

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