Shock research shows that changes in ocean conditions could cause temperatures to nose dive to levels not seen for more than 120,000 years.
Climate experts are warning that the ocean circulation system – dubbed the Gulf Stream – that brings warm weather to the UK has been slowing down since 2004.
Scientists believe this slowdown could have “consequences for the climates of eastern North America and Western Europe”.
Climate researcher Kathryn Kelly, of University of Washington, said the slowdown is happening “gradually” due to warm Indian Ocean water stopping heat from traveling north towards the UK.
Another study of past climate change shows that changes in the Gulf Stream can lead to drastic cooling in the north Atlantic ocean.
Climate boffins from Stockholm University studied fossils from an era – the Eemian – before the last ice age when temperatures were skyrocketing across the globe.
These fossils – including plants and insects – revealed an abrupt cooling event that plunged the planet into an ice age despite its warm climate.
According to the study, temperatures plummeted as much as 4C and remained low for a period of 500-1000 years.
A climate scientist from the Met Office’s Hadley Centre told Daily Star Online a further abrupt reduction in temperatures is recognised as a “possibility”.
He said heat traveling to the UK has been disrupted by changes in the ocean in the past.
The scientist said: “Over the next few decades, a further abrupt reduction is recognised as a possibility by climate scientists, but is considered to have a low likelihood.
“A more progressive long-term decline over many decades is thought to be much more likely, with decade-to-decade variations superimposed.
“These shorter-term variations, while not having impacts in the 2-4 degree range, may still produce significant effects on European climate.”
When asked to comment on the research, Richard Toll of Sussex University told Daily Star Online it was “largely irrelevant for the modern period as the conditions in the past no longer apply”.
It comes after climate boffins warned the UK could face a “triple whammy” of freak climate events causing temperatures to plummet will hit the country in 2017.
Drastic changes in ocean conditions, greenhouse gases and a weakening of the sun threaten increasingly worsening winters of blistering blizzards and severe snowstorms for years to come.
This cocktail of climate threats, paired with “hasty climate policies”, could mean “rolling blackouts” in the UK over the next few years, plunging the country into long period of darkness.
These “worse case scenario” climate threats will hit the elderly hardest, leaving “some pensioners alone in the dark” on a freezing nights resigned to a “lonely death”.