Monitoring the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation
May 8, 2016
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) plays an important role in Earth's climate system. It transports heat from the tropical Atlantic to higher latitudes and helps to give Western Europe its mild winter climate. This system of surface and deep currents has been of interest to oceanographers and climate scientists for decades. In 2004 it became more widely known.
Two events in 2004 brought the concept of "rapid climate change" to public attention. The first was a report for the Pentagon on the implication of "abrupt climate change" for U.S. national security. The second was the film "The Day after Tomorrow" - a disaster movie that depicted the sudden advance of a second ice age as the AMOC stopped and the "great ocean conveyor" ground to a halt. That same year, 2004, also saw the first deployment of an array of moorings across the Atlantic from Florida to Morocco. This was the start of the RAPID observations. The observing system has now completed over a decade of continuous AMOC measurements. These observations and the associated research projects have yielded surprising results and revolutionised our understanding of the AMOC.
Learn more about how rapid climate change is affecting our oceans currents.