‘Ticking Time Bomb’ of Heated Ocean Discovered Hidden Under The Arctic

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According to ScienceAlert (This article and its images were originally posted on ScienceAlert August 30, 2018 at 03:12AM.)

The Arctic is not in a good way. Its oldest, thickest sea ice is breaking. Strange lakes punctuate its landscape. The very chemistry of its water is changing.

Things could be about to get worse. New research has uncovered evidence of a vast reservoir of heated water building up underneath the Arctic Ocean and penetrating deep into the heart of the polar region, where it threatens to melt the ice frozen on top. And maybe a lot of it.

“We document a striking ocean warming in one of the main basins of the interior Arctic Ocean, the Canadian Basin,” explains oceanographer Mary-Louise Timmermans from Yale University.

Timmermans and her team analysed temperature data on the Canada Basin taken over the last 30 years, and found that the amount of heat in the warmest part of the water had effectively doubled in the period 1987 to 2017.

296 arctic heat archive ocean melt ice 1

The basin, which sits to the north of Alaska, is made up of mixed layers of ocean water, with cold, fresh water flowing at the surface, sitting on top of a body of warmer, saltier ocean trapped beneath it.

That dynamic has long been the case, but it’s the rapidly heating conditions of the warmer reservoir below that has scientists concerned.

“Presently this heat is trapped below the surface layer,” Timmermans says.

“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.”

According to the researchers, the warmer submerged waters have been ‘archiving’ heat due to “anomalous solar heating” of surface waters in the northern Chukchi Sea, which feeds the Canada Basin.

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This article and its images were originally posted on [ScienceAlert] August 30, 2018 at 03:12AM. All credit to both the author PETER DOCKRILL and ScienceAlert | ESIST.T>G>S Recommended Articles Of The Day.


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