What is AMOC, the heat-distributing Atlantic current?
- A slowdown in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation would have disastrous effects
ASK A CLIMATE scientist about possible “tipping points" and you are likely to hear about AMOC. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation is a stream of water which, as it flows from the southern to the northern (hence “meridional") part of the Atlantic, grows cooler and saltier. Eventually it sinks to the ocean floor, 3km down, and flows back (hence “overturning") across the abyssal plain. Mounting evidence suggests that the system that helps distribute heat around the world is weakening. Why do scientists find this so worrying?