Scientists explain why Arctic Ocean ice melting slows down

Scientists explain why Arctic Ocean ice melting slows down

September 14, 2023

The westward movement of fresh water has helped reduce the overall loss of Arctic ice.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. An international team of scientists has uncovered the mechanism behind the atlanticization of the Arctic Ocean and explained why the disappearance of sea ice has slowed down since 2007. It turns out that an atmospheric feature known as the Arctic Dipole plays a key role in this.

The Arctic Dipole is a system of two areas of low and high pressure over Eurasia and North America, which has a significant impact on the warming (atlanticization) of the Arctic. reports this with reference to an article in the journal Science. The dipole facilitates the penetration of warm southern winds into the northern regions, which enhances the melting of ice. At the same time, as satellite and ground-based observations show, the Arctic dipole has a 15-year cycle, and the system is currently approaching the transition to a new phase.

In the current regime, which has existed since 2007, high pressure is concentrated over the Canadian sector of the Arctic, where winds blow clockwise, and low pressure is concentrated over the Siberian Arctic with counterclockwise winds. According to scientists, this regime contributed to a decrease in the flow of seawater from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean through the Fram Strait east of Greenland and an increase in currents from the Atlantic to the Barents Sea.

At the same time, counterclockwise winds carry fresh water from Siberian rivers to the Canadian sector of the Arctic Ocean. The westward movement of freshwater from 2007 to 2021 has helped slow overall sea ice loss in the Arctic compared with the period from 1992 to 2006. The depth of the fresh water layer increased, making it too thick and stable to mix with the heavier salt water below. A thick layer of fresh water prevents warmer salt water from melting the sea ice. However, a shift in the dipole regime could have major climatological consequences, including faster rates of sea ice loss in Arctic and subarctic climate systems.

Previously, oceanologists predicted changes in the Gulf Stream in the coming years. In 2022, the World Ocean absorbed 1.5 times more energy than the annual average of the last 40 years. The area of the Arctic Ocean ice cap is shrinking at a serious rate.

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Text: Elena Popova, Photo: Olga Alexandrova, Nikolay Shchipko and Denis Kozhevnikov

September 14, 2023

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