How Siberian rivers affect Arctic climate

How Siberian rivers affect Arctic climate

September 07, 2020

Oceanologists tracked the movement of desalinated water off the Arctic coast.

Russian oceanologists have studied how the so-called plumes spread – this is desalinated water that arises in the Arctic seas due to the mixing of river and salty sea water. This was reported by the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology’s press office.

The Ob, Yenisey and Lena rivers carry a huge amount of fresh water into the Kara and Laptev seas, the total volume of flow from these three rivers per year is about 2300 cubic meters. Most of this runoff enters the sea during the ice-free period, from June to September, and forms the Ob-Yenisey plume and the Lena plume. These river plumes are the largest in the Arctic and one of the largest in the World Ocean.

Scientists investigated the distribution of the Ob-Yenisey plume from the Kara sea to the Laptev sea through the narrow Vilkitsky strait, located between the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago and the Taimyr peninsula, as well as the distribution of the Lena plume from the Laptev sea to the East Siberian sea through the narrow straits of Dmitry Laptev and Sannikov.

“Fresh water from rivers flowing into the Arctic ocean mixes very slowly with seawater, which makes the river plumes of large rivers very stable. As we have already found out, fresh water can be spread by wind for many hundreds of kilometers to the east. The results of our research allow us to assess the transfer of fresh water between the Kara sea, the Laptev sea and the East Siberian sea during ice-free periods”, said Sergey Shchuka, deputy head of the Department of Ocean Thermohydromechanics.

The study will help assess the impact of Siberian rivers on the ecosystems and climate of the Arctic. The obtained data are critically important for understanding the processes of ice formation, bioproductivity, and many other phenomena in the Arctic, which are influenced by continental runoff.

Text: Angelica Stepanova, Photo:

September 07, 2020

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