Trapped heat in Arctics interior could melt entire regions ice

James Marshall
September 1, 2018

The latest research suggests the warmth is being pushed below surface waters and into the Arctic interior, where it has been accumulating for the last 30 years.

Covering 30 years of observations, researchers used older data from ships and newer data from permanent probes installed deep in the water of the Canada Basin to calculates there is now enough new heat stored beneath the ocean surface to thin the ice cover of the entire basin by almost a meter.

Study lead author Professor Mary-Louise Timmermans, of Yale University said: 'We document a striking ocean warming in one of the main basins of the interior Arctic Ocean, the Canadian Basin'.

Using older data from ships and newer data from permanent probes installed deep in the water, researchers showed that water in the Arctic Ocean's Canadian Basin has warmed significantly in recent years. Arctic winds are pushing the warm water to the north.

That layer has probably always been there and comes from waters hundreds of kilometres to the south in the Chukchi Sea, said Timmermans.

Those waters move north through a natural current called the Beaufort Gyre. When they get far enough north, their higher salinity makes them heavier than the water around them and they sink below the surface. It notes the amount of such "archived" heat will continue develop because the Chukchi loses more ice. That has allowed the sun to warm it up. In order to make a real impact, wind would have to mix the two waters, which is unlikely since wind is directly influenced by the sea ice. "But wind input is largely buffered by sea ice cover sitting over top", she said. The paper calculates that sea is now though-provoking 5 instances more solar vitality than it did earlier than.

That sun-warmed water has created what Timmermans calls "archived" heat in the Canada Basin. The gyre contains both ice and water.

"We had seen [the deep Arctic Ocean] getting warmer with data points here and there, but something we hadn't appreciated before was just the slow and steady, obvious increase in the heat content", she said.

Some of that heat trickles up to the surface of the Canada Basin, one of the places that still has a summer ice cover.

The Arctic was known to be warmer than other oceans, were deep layers are colder, but the continuous rise of the heat level in the warm layer was a surprise for researchers. The supreme consequences are unknown, Timmermans said. And as climate change warms the waters even further, that heated water accumulates at the edge of the basin where it is pulled down below the surface. Story continues below commercial Scientists are aloof debating the affect of sea ice on the jet lumber, a high-altitude river of air that has big results on southern weather. "That heat is very much insulated from the surface area", she said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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