Could the system of ocean currents that regulates the climate for a swath of the planet — currents known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) — collapse sooner than expected? New research, published in the journal Nature Communications, show that a sharp weakening of the currents, or even a shutdown, could be upon us by century’s end. In interviews, several researchers who study the overturning applauded the new analysis for using a novel approach to predict when we might cross a tipping point. But they voiced reservations about some of its methods, and said more work was still needed to nail down the timing with greater certainty. Susan Lozier, Dean and Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Chair of the College of Sciences, and a professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has researched the AMOC in the past and is involved in new efforts to directly measure its currents. But the projects began collecting data in 2004 at the earliest, which isn’t enough time to draw firm long-term conclusions. “It is extremely difficult to look at a short record for the ocean overturning and say what it is going to do over 30, 40 or 50 years,” Lozier said.