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'The Day After Tomorrow', Q&A Response


Q & A



The motion picture The Day After Tomorrow may leave many viewers with questions about climate change. In the movie, recent events on earth’s ice sheets and hypothetical future events based on what is known about how climate, oceans, and ice sheets interact, are woven into an exciting but fictitious story about a future climate disaster. The kind of disaster portrayed in the movie is impossible, but the patterns described by the movie have a distant basis in real concepts being discussed by climate scientists, oceanographers, and glaciologists.

The following questions and answers are excerpts from a NASA note to the public regarding the movie. The National Snow and Ice Data Center has appended some links and information for interested visitors to our site, to provide further background on the real scientific discussion, and the facts, related to the movie. Excerpts from the NASA note are in black text, and text added by NSIDC is in blue.

Thank you for your interest.

  1. Did NASA participate in an official manner in the making of this motion picture?
  2. Is climate change (or global warming) happening?
  3. Larsen-B collapsed very quickly, what is the difference [between] that and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets?
  4. Are these ice sheets melting?
  5. Is rapid climate change possible? What might cause it?
  6. How rapid is rapid?
  7. Is anyone working on models of the climate system that include the possible effects of the North Atlantic changing? What might happen to the North Atlantic overturning circulation in a global warming scenario?
  8. Could the Younger Dryas happen again?
  9. The movie shows people freezing to death because of a super-storm bringing freezing air from the "upper troposphere." Could that really happen?
  10. Can the ocean cool by tens of degrees over a matter of days?
  11. Can a storm in the Pacific be linked with freak weather in Europe and Asia?
  12. Can ice sheets build up over days?
  13. Is this movie realistic?