Atlantic overturning: new observations and challenges

23 October 2023

A new collection of scientific papers summarising the latest knowledge on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) are published online today (23 October 2023). The papers follow as a result of a scientific discussion meeting organised at the Royal Society in London on 5-6 December 2022 by AMOC experts Professor Meric Srokosz, Professor Penny Holliday and Professor Harry Bryden.

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is projected to slowdown or stop under global warming, with major climatic impacts. To determine the likelihood of this happening and to understand its present state requires observations of the AMOC, which have only been available since 2004. Despite recent suggestions that the shutdown will happen soon, the observations suggest a more complex picture of the AMOC behaviour and point to the need to continue observing to improve future projections and to provide robust advice to policy makers. The new observations have led to a paradigm shift in how the AMOC is conceptualised – from simple conveyor belt to more complex flows – and further observations will no doubt continue to raise new research challenges.

RSTA special issue cover

The papers, featuring a number of articles by EPOC project scientists, are available in a special volume of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A (Volume 381, Issue 2262) and recordings of the original scientific presentations made in London are available to watch online at

Contributions to this special issue from EPOC scientists include:

  • Should AMOC observations continue: how and why? E. Frajka-Williams, N. Foukal and G. Danabasoglu. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2022.0195
  • From theory to RAPID AMOC observations: a personal voyage of discovery. Jochem Marotzke. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2022.0192
  • Can we trust projections of AMOC weakening based on climate models that cannot reproduce the past? Gerard D. McCarthy and Levke Caesar. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2022.0193
  • Contrasting internally and externally generated Atlantic Multidecadal Variability and the role for AMOC in CMIP6 historical simulations. Jon Robson, Rowan Sutton, Matthew B. Menary and Michael W. K. Lai. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2022.01