The circulation of waters around the Antarctic continent is faltering, and could lead to the failure of currents around the world. If this happens, atmospheric circulation will also fail, with immediate and serious consequences for highly polluted areas such as China, Northern Iran, parts of the United States and Europe and many other areas. China is especially vulnerable and could not sustain a protracted period without atmospheric circulation.
What is happening is that fresh water is building up in the ocean around the Antarctic. This water freezes faster than salt water, with the result that the water beneath it is not getting as cold, meaning that the difference between its temperature and that of warmer waters to the north is dropping. Ocean currents fundamental to all life, and to atmospheric circulation, depend on this temperature difference, and they are now starting to weaken.
Whether or not this will continue, get worse or correct itself is unknown, but it is a sign of climate change that is not accounted for in current climate models, and therefore will have unforeseen consequences.
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