EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Atlantic Overturning Circulation: At its Weakest in a Millennium?

Stefan Rahmstorf1,2 and Levke Caesar3
Stefan Rahmstorf and Levke Caesar
  • 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2University of Potsdam, Institute of Physics and Astronomy, Germany
  • 3Maynooth University, ICARUS Climate Research Centre, Ireland

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is a major mechanism for northward heat transport on our planet and the prime reason why the Northern Hemisphere is warmer than the Southern Hemisphere (Feulner et al. 2013). The AMOC is a sensitive non-linear system dependent on subtle thermohaline density differences in ocean water, and major AMOC transitions have been implicated e.g. in millennial climate events during the last glacial (Rahmstorf 2002).

There is evidence that the AMOC is slowing down in response to modern global warming, as predicted by climate models (Caesar et al. 2018). We will review and compile proxy evidence for AMOC changes during the past 1-2 millennia, including e.g. Sherwood et al. 2011, Thibodeau et al. 2018, Thornalley et al. 2018, Rahmstorf et al. 2015, Zanna et al. 2019. We conclude that there now is substantial and consistent evidence from multiple independent sources for a modern AMOC slowdown that is unprecedented in at least a millennium.


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How to cite: Rahmstorf, S. and Caesar, L.: The Atlantic Overturning Circulation: At its Weakest in a Millennium?, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13859,, 2020

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