Waning of Atlantic currents could chill Europe

Remember that movie The Day After Tomorrow? With the shifting ocean currents that cause sudden, catastrophic climate changes? Crazy stuff! Michael Moore territory! Well … funny story. Turns out the Atlantic Ocean currents that move warm tropical waters northward and cooler waters south have in fact slowed dramatically — by about 30 percent in the past 50 years, according to a new study in the journal Nature. The likely culprit? Disruption in the salinity and density of Atlantic waters brought about by increased “freshening” with more rain and melting glaciers, thanks to global warming. This could be bad news for northwestern Europe, which depends on that hit of tropical heat for its mild climate. A total shutdown of the Atlantic current system — still deemed unlikely so far — could cool the region by several degrees over 10 to 20 years. Hello, ice age! Researchers say a lot more study is needed, but most seem alarmed by the findings. And alarmed researchers make us nervous.