(note: this is part 3 in our series and is edited for content) (Part 1, Part 2)
An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its' Implications for United States National Security (PDF)
By Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall
The Period from 2010 to 2020:
Thermohaline Circulation Collapse
After roughly 60 years of slow freshening, the thermohaline collapse begins in 2010, disrupting the temperate climate of Europe, which is made possible by the warm flows of the Gulf Stream (the North Atlantic arm of the global thermohaline conveyor).
Ocean circulation patterns change, bringing less warm water north and causing an immediate shift in the weather in Northern Europe and eastern North America.
The effects of the drought are more devastating than the unpleasantness of temperature decreases in the agricultural and populated areas.
With the persistent reduction of precipitation in these areas, lakes dry-up, river flow decreases, and fresh water supply is squeezed, overwhelming available conservation options and depleting fresh water reserves.
The Mega-droughts begin in key regions in Southern China and Northern Europe around 2010 and last throughout the full decade.
At the same time, areas that were relatively dry over the past few decades receive persistent years of torrential rainfall, flooding rivers, and regions that traditionally relied on dryland agriculture.
In the North Atlantic region and across northern Asia, cooling is most pronounced in the heart of winter -- December, January, and February -- although its effects linger through the seasons, the cooling becomes increasingly intense and less predictable.
As snow accumulates in mountain regions, the cooling spreads to summertime.
While weather patterns are disrupted during the onset of the climatic change around the globe, the effects are far more pronounced in Northern Europe for the first five years after the thermohaline circulation collapse.
By the second half of this decade, the chill and harsher conditions spread deeper into Southern Europe, North America, and beyond.
Winds pick up as the atmosphere tries to deal with the stronger pole-to-equator temperature gradient.
Cold air blowing across the European continent causes especially harsh conditions for agriculture.
The combination of wind and dryness causes widespread dust storms and soil loss.
Signs of incremental warming appear in the southern most areas along the Atlantic Ocean, but the dryness doesn’t let up.
By the end of the decade, Europe’s climate is more like Siberia’s.