The Coming Global Superstorm
The book posits the following theory:
- First, that the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic drift generate a cordon of warm water around the North Pole, which in turn holds in a frozen mass of Arctic air.
- Second, that if the North Atlantic drift were to shut down, that barrier would fail, releasing a flood of frozen air into the Northern Hemisphere, causing a sudden and drastic temperature shift.
The book discusses a possible cause of the failure of the Gulf Stream: that the melting of the polar ice caps could drastically affect the salinity of the North Atlantic drift by dumping a large quantity of freshwater into the world's oceans.
Bell and Strieber explain the possibility that such current destabilizations have occurred before, as well as seemingly impossible engineering feats by the ancients. Among their examples is the island city of Nan Madol; the book claims that its construction, with exacting tolerances and extremely heavy basalt materials, necessitates a high degree of technical competency. Since no such society exists in the modern record - or, even, in legend - this society must have been destroyed by dramatic means. While other explanations beside a global meteorological event are possible, a correlating evidence set is presented in the woolly mammoth. Strieber and Bell assert that, since mammoths have been found preserved with food still in their mouths and undigested in their stomachs, these animals must have been killed quickly, in otherwise normal conditions, and been preserved so well by quick freezing. This is taken as evidence of a rapid onset of a global blizzard or similar event.
Interspersed with the analytical parts of the book are a series of interlinked short fictional scenarios, written in italics, describing what might transpire today, should a destabilization of the North Atlantic Current occur. These fictional accounts of "current events" as the meteorological situation deteriorates provided background and inspiration for the 2004 science-fiction film The Day After Tomorrow and, indeed, some events from the book are portrayed in the film with little modification.
- Arnold Federbush, author of Ice!, a 1978 novel with similar themes