Will global warming bring us a new ice age?

Will global warming bring us a new ice age?
Gulf Stream
Image: OÖNGraphik (APA)

The system is therefore facing a “devastating tipping point”. The consequences: a drastic drop in temperature in Europe, a significant rise in sea level – at a pace that probably makes it impossible to adapt to the serious changes.

Specifically, the Dutch study is about the consequences of climate change for the so-called Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current (AMOC). AMOC describes a complex system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean. It is considered a key component in regulating the climatic conditions on the planet.

No contradiction

This is not a contradiction to the previous warnings about global warming: it is precisely the warming of the ocean and the influx of fresh water caused by the melting ice that are changing the heat and salt balance. This in turn could slow down the currents or even bring them to a standstill.

  • Also read: Unusually high temperatures: January 2024 was the warmest since measurements began

The model, which was calculated using complex and expensive computer systems, does not provide any information about when this happens. The AMOC has only been observed continuously since 2004. “But we can at least say that we are moving towards the tipping point of climate change,” says Renè van Westen, a marine and atmospheric scientist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and lead author of the study. There was already a standstill more than 12,000 years ago. The reason was rapid glacier melting. One thing is clear: if this were to happen again, the consequences would be fatal.

Temperatures could drop by up to 30 degrees within 100 years

In some parts of Europe, it is said, temperatures could fall by as much as 30 degrees Celsius within a century, leading to a completely different climate within just a decade or two. On the other hand, warming could increase in countries in the southern hemisphere, and in the Amazon the wet and dry seasons could reverse, seriously disrupting the ecosystem. Temperatures around the world would fluctuate much more. But nothing is certain: many climate experts doubt the calculations. At least they see the tipping point much later.

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