Melting Arctic ice changes ocean currents, A new NASA study shows that large ocean currents in the Arctic are faster and more volatile due to rapid melting of sea ice.
The current is part of the sensitive Arctic environment which is now flooded with fresh water, the effects of man-made climate change.
Using 12-year satellite data, scientists have measured how this circular flow, called Beaufort Gyre, threatens an unprecedented supply of cold and fresh water – changes that can change currents in the Atlantic and cool the climate in Western Europe. Melting Arctic ice changes ocean currents.
Beaufort Gyre maintains the balance of the polar environment by storing fresh water near the surface of the sea. The wind blows clockwise around the Arctic Ocean, north of Canada and Alaska, where it naturally collects ice water, runoff, and rainfall.
This fresh water is partly important in the Arctic because it floats on warmer and saltier water and protects sea ice from melting, which in turn helps regulate the Earth’s climate.
Fat slowly releases this fresh water to the Atlantic for decades and allows Atlantic currents to flow in small amounts. Melting Arctic ice changes ocean currents.
Since the 1990s, fat has accumulated large amounts of fresh water – 8,000 cubic kilometers – or nearly double the volume of Lake Michigan. A new study published by Nature Communications found that the reason for this increase in freshwater concentration is the loss of sea ice in summer and autumn.
A decade’s decline in sea ice in the Arctic summer has made Beaufort Gyre more windblown, swiftly rotating fat and capturing fresh water.
The stable westerly winds have also been pulling electricity in one direction for more than 20 years, increasing the speed and force of clockwise flow and preventing fresh water from flowing into the Arctic Ocean.
This decade of western winds is not uncommon in areas where wind direction has changed every five to seven years.
Scientists observe Beaufort Gyre if the wind direction changes again.
When the direction changes, the wind reverses the current by pulling it in the opposite direction and flowing water that suddenly builds up.
“If Beaufort Gyre releases excess fresh water into the Atlantic, it has the potential to slow circulation. And that will affect the climate, especially in Western Europe,” said Tom Armitage, lead author of the study and polar scientist at NASA’s Jet Lab engine in Pasadena, California.
Freshwater separated from the Arctic Ocean into the North Atlantic can change the surface water density. Arctic water usually loses heat and moisture into the atmosphere and sinks to the bottom of the ocean, where it transports water from the North Atlantic to the tropics as a conveyor.
This important current is called the Atlantic Meridian, which tilts circulation, and helps regulate the planet’s climate by transferring heat from tropical heated water to northern latitudes such as Europe and North America. The Melting Arctic ice changes ocean currents.
If it is delayed enough, it can affect sea life and the people who depend on it.
“We don’t expect the Gulf Stream to close, we have an impact. That’s why we watch Beaufort Gyre so closely,” said Alec Petty, co-author of the paper and polar researcher at NASA’s Greenbelt Space Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
The study also found that Beaufort Gyre was out of balance because of the additional energy from the wind, while electricity released this excess energy and formed a small circular whirlpool. Although increased turbulence keeps the system balanced, there is a possibility that the ice will continue to melt because it mixes layers of cold and fresh water with relatively warm salt water.
Melting ice can cause changes in the mixture of nutrients and organic matter in the oceans which greatly affect the Arctic food chain and wildlife.
The results show a balance between wind and ocean, while sea ice provides a way for climate change.