The Day After Tomorrow, but in Real Life

Alora, Contributor

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A wild and unlikely prediction was made in The Day After Tomorrow. In the movie itself, multiple catastrophic storms destroy life. The main natural cause is the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) grinding to a halt, throwing the world into another ice age. The story describes an event that viewers deemed impossible and outrageous. However, the 2004 Hollywood sci-fi wasn’t too far off of the truth.

The AMOC is in the Atlantic Ocean and is responsible for moving warm water from the tropical places to Europe and the North Atlantic. This warm water keeps the land warm and gives Europe it’s mild and temperate weather. “The AMOC moves ocean water north and south in the Atlantic while circulating it from the surface to the watery depths…Once the warmer water reaches the area around the UK, it cools and sinks to the bottom of the Labrador and Nordic Seas. Then that cold water makes a U-turn and snakes its way along the ocean floor all the way down to Antarctica’s Southern Ocean” (Business Insider). When AMOC, often referred to as a conveyor belt, is moving fast, the Northern Hemisphere receives warm climate, and the other way around when the current is moving slow. If this current were to come to a halt, as described in The Day After Tomorrow, and the events today mirror the movie perfectly, the practically overnight freeze would spread across Europe. Being a Hollywood movie, things may or may not have been a little over exaggerated. There is no way to know for sure that the world’s temperature will plummet to lower than 150 degrees Fahrenheit and people will freeze in the streets. Moving past the dramatics of Hollywood, if the AMOC would grind to a stop, it would not be pretty. But maybe, the current has already started.

The AMOC’s speed depends on the balance of salt and fresh water in the ocean, which must be a perfect ratio, otherwise the current falters. Too much of one or the other causes the other to be less likely to sink, thus clogging the current. This is where the problem of Global Warming affects AMOC. The man-made heat is causing the glaciers in Greenland to melt, a problem well known by a majority. The glaciers are releasing more and more freshwater into the ocean, causing the ratio to fall off balance. This was what the researcher in The Day After Tomorrow was concerned about. “According to a 2018 study, the circulation is the weakest it’s been in at least the past 1,600 years” (Business Insider). A researcher by the name of Francesco Muschitiello, who is researching the AMOC, predicted that the current’s effects may happen around 400 years from now. Even though this doesn’t affect people today, the problems won’t just go away. The current will still majorly affect the climate in Europe, and many other places around the world for our descendants.

 

https://www.businessinsider.com/day-after-tomorrow-was-right-and-wrong-about-climate-shifts-2019-3

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