The Day After Tomorrow

Scientific truth, political agenda or just a disaster movie?

Here is a wide selection of reviews of the film:

For each review, think about

  • whether it is for or against the film
  • whether it thinks the science behind the film is correct or not
  • what it says the message behind the film is
  • whether or not it thinks the film gets its message across well
  • whether you are told enough about the author to see whether they are biased in any way

Various organisations carried out polls of public opinion about climate change issues at the time of the film:

Background information

What is an Ice Age?

What were they doing cutting an Ice Core in Antarctica?

When do ice shelves split off?

What is the Gulf Stream?

The Gulf Stream is part of the thermohaline circulation. Whereas the thermohaline circulation could ‘switch off’ – for example if a lot of fresh water was introduced to the system at the Poles, the Gulf Stream never will, as it is also driven in part by the wind.

The Gulf Stream keeps Britain and the rest of North-Western Europe several degrees warmer than it would otherwise be.

Could it get that cold that quickly?

In the film, temperatures fall by 10°C per second to ‘the temperature of the tropopause’. The tropopause is the boundary between the troposphere (where all the weather is) and the stratosphere, and is found at about the height of the top of Mount Everest (10km) where aeroplanes tend to fly. Temperatures are typically about -60°C – not all THAT cold (central Siberia often experiences -50°C in a normal winter). Crucially though, you can only get temperatures that low if the pressure is also as low as it is at the tropopause – about a tenth of the atmospheric pressure we usually experience on the surface of the Earth (that’s why mountaineers tend to have to breathe bottled oxygen). To get pressures that low, the hurricanes would have to have had wind speeds of about 500m/s (1000 miles per hour!!). It wouldn’t have been the drop in temperature that killed people.

What is a Paleaoclimate model? How is it different from a Hurricane Model?

The main difference between them is that whereas a paleaoclimate model has to calculate hundreds of thousands years of weather, and therefore tends to have a very coarse resolution in space (large grid squares) and time (long timesteps), a hurricane model doesn’t have to represent the whole Earth, and only has to be run for a few months at most, so can have a very fine resolution in order to capture all the small scale features of the hurricane.

Can you get hailstones that big?

I thought it was global WARMING that was the big issue?

Read about how we are trying to find out what the affect of a thermohaline circulation slowdown:

How is looking at thermohaline circulation slowdown?

One experiment is investigating the effect that a slowdown of the Gulf Stream would have on the world’s climate. It is NOT looking at what the likelihood of a slowdown would be. To find out more, go to the Thermohaline project page: