UK faces deep freeze if Gulf Stream collapses

Twenty years have passed since *The Day After Tomorrow* was released in theatres; now, scientists warn that its horrifying plot may soon become a reality.

The film depicts a massive “superstorm” ensuing from the Gulf Stream’s collapse, leading to catastrophic ecological disasters and initiating a new Ice Age on the planet.

The characters in the film are quickly buried in snow, engulfed in enormous tsunamis, and completely overwhelmed by vehicles thrown by tornadoes.

However, what would happen in the United Kingdom if the Gulf Stream collapsed?

Britain could face winter conditions 15°C colder than average.

The Gulf Stream is a crucial part of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), a vast network of currents that scientists predict could collapse by 2025.

The AMOC, stretching from the tropics to the Northern Hemisphere, transports warm water near the ocean’s surface in a manner akin to a conveyor belt.

If it disintegrated, temperatures in the United Kingdom would plummet, according to climate scientist Professor David Thornalley of University College London.

“Many elderly and young individuals would be vulnerable to the extremely low winter temperatures, and people would die as a result of more severe winter storms and flooding,” he said.

Potential Impacts on Climate Zones

Professor of Earth Observation at the University of Bristol, Jonathan Bamber, agreed that the climate of northwest Europe would be “unrecognisable compared to its current state” if the AMOC failed.

“Winters would resemble those of Arctic Canada if the temperature were reduced by several degrees,” he said.

Climate scientist and oceanographer Rene van Westen of Utrecht University predicts that summer temperatures in the United Kingdom will be between 5.4°F and 9°F (3°C and 5°C) lower than they are now.

Meanwhile, average winter temperatures in Britain could drop by 18°F to 27°F (10°C to 15°C), with some areas experiencing the most severe effects.UK faces deep freeze if Gulf Stream collapses

Van Westen stated that if the annual mean surface temperature over London were to decrease by 12.6°F (7°C), the resulting temperature drop in Scotland (-21.6°F/-12°C) would be significantly greater.

Yet, compared to other regions, Professor Thornalley claims that the impact would be minimal in the United Kingdom.

A collapse of the AMOC would cause a shift in the tropical rainfall belt, a region of precipitation near the tropics, in other parts of the world.

Professor Thornalley said, “[This] would significantly disrupt agriculture and water supplies across vast swathes of the globe.”

A large number of people would be affected and suffer due to drought, famine, and flooding in countries already facing these challenges.

Massive numbers of climate refugees would be displaced, and geopolitical tensions would rise.

AMOC’s Approaching Tipping Point

The AMOC, according to recent studies, has shown signs of nearing a critical “tipping point” at which collapse is imminent.

The exact timing of this tipping point remains uncertain; it may happen within decades, rather than the centuries previously thought.

“We cannot speculate at this time on the time required for an abrupt AMOC collapse to occur (i.e., the scenario depicted in *The Day After Tomorrow*),” van Westen said.

Our analysis simply indicates that a tipping point is approaching.

The characters in *The Day After Tomorrow* are completely unprepared due to the abrupt shift to extreme cold and the collapse of the AMOC, which occurs within days.

Fortunately, such a rapid transition is unlikely to occur in the real world, according to Penny Holliday, head of marine physics and ocean circulation at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton.

She said, “If the AMOC does reach a tipping point, it will do so over the course of several decades at the earliest.”

“However, whether it happens suddenly or gradually over decades, a slowdown of the AMOC will lead to the formation of more intense and destructive weather systems with the potential to cause fatalities and extensive property damage.”

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