Impacts of Thermohaline Shutdown on Land and Water Life

Scientists believe the shutdown of Thermohaline Circulation can have severe and catastrophic effects on both land and water life, given the impact this event would have on climate change (Anthoff, Estrada, & Tol, 2016). Given that the Thermohaline Circulation is much determined by the differences in density of seawater salinity and temperature variation, the warm surface water is likely to move towards the northern hemisphere, while the cool waters move downwards (McPherson & Sundquist, 2013).

This movement bears a tremendous amount of heat transfer towards the north, resulting in the disruption on the climatic homeostasis, which can significantly influence both water and land animals. Changes brought about by this circulation may directly result in the rising of sea levels since melting sea ice and polar ice sheets affected by thermal expansions thaw. An additional impact of this change is an increase in coastal erosion, inundation and a general loss of coastal habitats. This impact will vary from one coastal environment to the next since their levels of resiliency and relative adaptability are quite different from each other. Water is often turned over by the currents with the warm water ending up at the bottom while the vice versa happens to the lower nutrient-rich water. Since ocean water usually moves towards areas of equilibrium, balancing it out becomes necessary and ultimately ensures that it is denser than before.

Given that the Thermohaline Circulation plays a critical role in supplying heat to the polar regions, its shutdown would considerably cool the northern hemisphere. The cooling can be strong enough to facilitate the reemergence of the pre-industrial conditions and subsequent remarkable rise of ice cover in the sea, hence impacting sea waters (Anthoff et al., 2016). It is vital to acknowledge that this sudden change would also prove difficult to manage since removing carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere is a challenging task. This circulation pattern would eventually drive the warm surface water to the North Pole, which would result in shifts in climate in Western Europe and Eastern North America. Additionally, earth’s radiation budget will also be adversely affected with melt-water of a distinctly low-density in major lakes and de-glaciation, leading to a disruption in the formation of deep water.

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