Europe Is Due for a Cold Spell One of These Days

Remember that scene from The Day After Tomorrow where Dennis Quaid tells everybody about the breakdown of the Atlantic current that carries warm water north from the tropics? Sure you do. Within minutes, tornadoes are everywhere, tsunamis are destroying the coast, and New York City is sent back into another ice age. I’ll remind you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzgAC1HN9Hw&t=49s

Unfortunately, this wasn’t all Hollywood bullshit. A new ice age may not be imminent, but the current in question—the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, or AMOC to its friends—really is weakening, mostly due to the melting of the polar ice cap and the Greenland ice sheet, which makes the ocean water less salty. This means the coast off Greenland is cooling and the coast off of New York City is warming (Dennis got that part wrong). Here’s a picture from a new study in Nature that shows how observation matches with climate models:

That’s a pretty close fit. And if you’re the kind of person who’d really prefer to see this in complicated chart form—and who isn’t?—a second paper in Nature has you covered:

All three of these charts show a dramatic change at the start of the industrial era. The authors believe that this change was probably kicked off by the end of the Little Ice Age, but has since continued for other reasons:

This suggests either hysteresis of the AMOC in response to an early climate forcing—natural (solar, volcanic) or anthropogenic (greenhouse gases, aerosols, land-use change)—or that continued climate forcing, such as the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, has been sufficient to keep the AMOC weak or cause further weakening.

So there you have it. If this keeps up, it’s not New York that will start to freeze over, it’s Europe. Right now, they’re kept relatively toasty, even though London is about as far north as Newfoundland, because the AMOC pushes warm water from the equator up their coast. If that stops, it’s going to get pretty chilly in Britain. For more, Chris Mooney has a good writeup in the Washington Post.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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