Global warming is threatening the Earth's thermostat. In the past two decades, average annual temperatures have climbed as much as 4C in the Arctic. As a result, sea ice is now 40 per cent thinner and covers 6 per cent less area than in 1980. Excess heat in the tropics is scattered at the poles, about half of it through what is called the ocean conveyor, a vast deepwater current equivalent to 100 Amazon rivers. The rest of the heat is transferred as energy in the storms that move north from the tropics. If the poles continue to warm faster than the tropics, it will affect prevailing winds, ocean currents and rainfall patterns.
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