Abrupt changes of the Atlantic Oceanic Circulation by Vassily Kandinsky

The Atlantic Ocean circulation is a system of currents that plays a crucial role in regulating the Earth’s climate. In particular, it helps to transport heat and humidity around the globe. This phenomenon is considered to be a tipping point in the Earth’s climate system.

D'après l'intelligence artificielle Dall-E

Based on Dall-E artificial intelligence


It is driven by differences in water density, itself influenced by a number of factors, such as temperature and salinity. Abrupt changes in response to climate change, disrupting Atlantic ocean circulation, could occur and lead to major changes in weather and climate conditions on a regional scale.

Among these changes, the current melting of the ice in Greenland is contributing to changes in the salinity of the North Atlantic Ocean. As the ice melts, it increases the amount of freshwater, an event that is not without consequences. Indeed, the Gulf Stream, the warm current that usually flows up to Europe before plunging into the depths of the ocean, would see its trajectory changed as a result of this variation in salinity, and would no longer reach the west coast of Europe. Deprived of this warm current, an intermediate (non-permanent) period of cold could then affect Europe.

In this context, Vassily Kandinsky, the famous Russian painter, could have imagined a painting depicting the impact of sudden changes in Atlantic ocean circulation in his characteristic abstract style. This painting would be a powerful and thought-provoking representation of the complexity and interconnectedness of the Earth’s climate system, and a reminder of the importance of understanding and protecting our planet.



La circulation thermohaline

Davide Faranda

Climate and Environmental Sciences Laboratory (LSCE - IPSL)