Warmer Water Has Reached Deep Into The Arctic Interior, Study Finds

Posted: Sep 1 2018, 2:58pm CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Warmer Water has Reached Deep into the Arctic Interior, Study Finds
Credit: Yale University

Heat trapped below the Arctic surface could melt the region's entire sea ice.

Researchers have found evidence that warmer water in Arctic has penetrated deep into the region’s interior. This heat is still trapped just below the surface. But it has a potential to melt Arctic’s entire ice pack if it rises and touches the surface.

"We document a striking ocean warming in one of the main basins of the interior Arctic Ocean, the Canadian Basin.” Lead author Mary-Louise Timmermans from Yale University said.

The primary reason for the change is rise in temperatures. Rising temperatures have widespread consequences for the ecosystems across the globe but the effects are more pronounced in the Arctic. As the Arctic warms, its ice melts. The exposed surface absorbs more of the sunlight instead of reflecting it back into space. As a result, temperature goes up further and causes more melting.

Researchers have been tracking the changes in the Canada Basin from the past 30 years and they have witnessed a two-fold increase in heat during that period. They also found a warm layer of water about 50 meters below the surface that originated hundreds of miles away in the south. But Arctic winds are driving the warmer water north and trapping it below the surface.

The trapping effect is caused by the Arctic’s distinct layers of water. Less dense layer of freshwater lies on the top, while salty denser water stays in the bottom. The warm water is being held at that depth by the layer of colder, freshwater overhead. If these two layers start to mix they will accelerate ice loss.

“This means that the effects of sea-ice loss are not limited to the ice-free regions themselves, but also lead to increased heat accumulation in the interior of the Arctic Ocean that can have climate effects well beyond the summer season," said Timmermans. "Presently this heat is trapped below the surface layer. Should it be mixed up to the surface, there is enough heat to entirely melt the sea-ice pack that covers this region for most of the year."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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