Chunks of ice break off from the Greenland ice sheet in 2017, creating a swarm of icebergs in a fjord.(David Goldman / Associated Press)
Chunks of ice break off from the Greenland ice sheet in 2017, creating a swarm of icebergs in a fjord.(David Goldman / Associated Press)

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Daniel Swain for LA Times—Scientists warn that a crucial ocean current could collapse, altering global weather

UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain discusses the potential collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation for LA Times, sharing how it could lead to “hugely chaotic changes in global weather patterns.”

The AMOC, a system of ocean currents crucial for redistributing heat and regulating climates, is weakening under a warming climate, raising concerns about a dangerous collapse with worldwide consequences. Swain emphasizes that while the odds of such a collapse are low—about 5% to 10% this century—the impact would be significant.

“It would plunge Europe into essentially a regionalized Ice Age, while leaving the rest of the world on its continued warming path,” Swain said. “The Southern Hemisphere would roast, the Pacific storm track would go kind of nuts, and there would be these extreme shifts in weather patterns that are very different from what you would expect from a more incremental or linear warming path.”