Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Day After Tomorrow

The Day After Tomorrow is a disaster film epic when a paleoclimatologist must make a daring trek across America to reach his son, after being trapped in the middle of a sudden global warming storm that triggers the Earth into a new Ice Age. 

In the doomsday scenario, the action adventure begins with series of behind the scenes scientists who keep track of the AMOC or The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Over a short time, a small group of specialists, become aware of sudden changes in the ocean temperature, which causes the Earth to enter into a ice age collapse. They try to convince Washington and warn everyone, but no one believes them, and it's too late. The second ice age hits. I like the scene where the son and his friends remain alive in the NYC Library burning books in a giant fireplace within an inch of their lives. It's also intriguing to see an old pay phone used in an early scene, to make a last ditch call, after cell phones become useless. A little known fact these days is that pay phones use old fashion but stable underground wiring, which can survive almost anything. 

The funny thing about science fiction however, is this little thing called science fact, and certain aspects of these stories are not as outlandish as you may think. Tomorrow is, to a certain degree, based on solid scientific fact. Everyone these days seems so focused on "warming" but lets not forget the camp of people concerned about "freezing." And what exactly are they talking about? Well, Yale University scientist Wei Liu has calculated this movie scenario could be true. According to his recent research at UW Madison, our precious beautiful planet, could collapse within 300 years. Climate change could become so extreme that it could trigger a cataclysmic collapse of a vital Atlantic Ocean current just as Tomorrow predicts. Note he says - extreme. Not warming or freezing in particular but both, and to the extreme. Parts of the Northern Hemisphere could turn into a frigid ice age. Published in Science Advances, his study shows that once atmospheric carbon dioxide increases to 710 parts per million, the AMOC will break down and trigger a major sea ice expansion. Last weeks levels are already at 405 parts per million. Are you reading the numbers here? The prominent cooling of the norther North Atlantic could begin to disrupt the normal rain belt areas beginning a significant push southward over the tropical Atlantic. 

Without cold water moving south again, this scenario would create a stronger warming pattern south of the equator, and more rain would fall for places like Brazil and less rain for Central America.The model also predicts a reduction in the Antartic sea ice.

Wei warns us that this fragile life-sustaining AMOC has been overlooked in climate change models. "The significance of our study is to point out a systematic bias in current climate models that hinders a correct climate projection," he said in a statement. 

Co-author Zhengyu Liu of the University of Wisconsin- Madison said his earlier views of the AMOC being stable has completely changed since publishing the results of the test.

A shutdown they call it, where "prominant cooling" of the northern North Atlantic begins with a remarkable sea ice expansion turning North America into a frigid wasteland in a matter of weeks.