Melting ice around Antarctica will cause a rapid slowdown of a major global deep ocean current by 2050 that could alter the world’s climate for centuries and accelerate sea level rise, according to scientists behind new research.
The research suggests if greenhouse gas emissions continue at today’s levels, the current in the deepest parts of the ocean could slow down by 40% in only three decades.
This, the scientists said, could generate a cascade of impacts that could push up sea levels, alter weather patterns and starve marine life of a vital source of nutrients.
A team of Australian scientists looked at the deep ocean current below 4,000 metres that originates in the cold, fresh and dense waters that plunge down off Antarctica’s continental shelf and spread to ocean basins around the globe.
Prof Matt England, of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales and a co-author of the research published in Nature, said the whole deep ocean current was heading for collapse on its current trajectory. [Continue reading…]