Arctic sea ice melt is increasing due to warm Atlantic water from below

Shane McGlaun - Sep 19, 2020, 11:20am CDT
Arctic sea ice melt is increasing due to warm Atlantic water from below

Scientists are pointing out that ice melt in the Arctic is increasing. The researchers say the rate of ice melt is increasing due to warm water from the Atlantic Ocean flowing under the Arctic ice. Researchers say that it’s been long known when summer ends in the Arctic and sea ice begins to grow once more. That point is known as the annual sea ice minimum extent, and they say it has decreased consistently over the last 15 years.

The level of ice at this point in 2019 was the second-lowest in 42 years, behind 2012. The minimum is coming for 2020, and researchers say that there is even less ice coverage this year to last. Researchers say that the Arctic sea ice is increasingly being thinned not only from warm air from above but by warming waters from below.

Another study shows that the influence of heat from the ocean has overtaken the atmosphere’s influence and caused ice melt in the Eastern Arctic Ocean. Atmospheric heat is the dominant reason for melting ice in the summer but has little influence in the cold polar winter. The warmer ocean water from below impacts the ice year-round.

The new research shows that the warm seawater’s influence has more than doubled over the last decade and is equivalent to melting nearly a meter of thickness off the sea ice each year. Warm ocean water is sometimes known as the “heat blob” and originates in the Atlantic before heading northwards via an extension of the Gulf Stream.

The warm water enters the Arctic Ocean around Svalbard, an archipelago about halfway between Norway and the North Pole. The blob has resulted in the disappearance of winter sea ice off the northern coast of Norway and North-West Russia.

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