Antarctic Ocean Currents Heading for Collapse
Sydney, 30 Mar (ONA) —- Rapidly melting Antarctic ice is causing a dramatic slowdown in deep ocean currents and could have a disastrous effect on the climate, a new report warns.
The deep-water flows which drive ocean currents could decline by 40% by 2050, a team of Australian scientists says.
The currents carry vital heat, oxygen, carbon and nutrients around the globe.
Previous research suggests a slowdown in the North Atlantic current could cause Europe to become colder, BBC news reported.
The study, published in the journal Nature, also warns the slowdown could reduce ocean's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The report outlines how the Earth's network of ocean currents are part driven by the downwards movement of cold, dense saltwater towards the sea bed near Antarctica.
But as fresh water from the ice cap melts, sea water becomes less salty and dense, and the downwards movement slows.
These deep ocean currents, or "overturnings", in the northern and southern hemispheres have been relatively stable for thousands of years, scientists say, but they are now being disrupted by the warming climate.
Scientists spent 35 million computing hours over two years to produce their models, which suggest deep water circulation in the Antarctic could slow at twice the rate of decline in the North Atlantic.