The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation—AMOC,
a name too hard to remember with a role too vital to forget.
Like a global HVAC, it circulates the Gulf Stream—
the Goldilocks current that keeps everything just right—
not too cold, not too hot.
Salty, tropical water flows north
and warms American and European coastlines.
Nearing Greenland, the warm, salty water sinks,
forcing cold fresh water to the top,
which flows south to cool the tropics.
But Greenland’s melting ice is flooding
the North Atlantic with cold fresh water:
Like oil leaking into a car radiator, fresh water dilutes
the salt water so it does not sink as hard
or fast. Like reducing the voltage, everything
slows down. In 50 years the
AMOC has slowed 15 percent.
If the AMOC stops completely,
temperatures will appear in the wrong places:
WAY TOO COLD WAY TOO HOT
Europe and North America Africa and Antarctica.
Scientists say AMOC’s slowing is an “existential” threat—
another word for cataclysm.
When a glacial lake flooded the North Atlantic 12,000 years ago,
Geologic history has a habit of repeating itself.
A former intelligence analyst and lawyer, Anne Gruner writes fiction, creative non-fiction, book reviews, and poetry. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including a Pushcart-nominated short fiction in "Constellations: A Journal of Poetry and Fiction." She lives in McLean, Virginia with her husband and two golden retrievers.