Expanding Arctic water pool could cool Europe

By RTCC Staff

(Source: US Geological Society)

A huge dome of fresh water detected in the Artic Ocean is expanding and could potentially lower the temperature in Europe, say British Scientists.

The team from University College London and Britain’s National Oceanography Centre found the bulge of fresh water has increased by at least 8,000 cubic km – about 10 percent of all fresh water in the Artic Ocean.

Using satellites to measure the sea surface between 1995 and 2010, they found the western Arctic’s surface has risen by about 15 cms since 2002.

The study, published in Nature Geoscience, warns that changes in wind direction could cause the pool of fresh water to spill out into the rest of the Artic Ocean and even into the North Atlantic Ocean.

A similar change in wind direction was witnessed in the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s.

If water were to enter the North Atlantic in large quantities it could potentially slow down the ocean current coming from the Gulf Stream which helps to keep Europe relatively mild.

The team believe the rise could be due to strong Arctic winds influencing an ocean current called the Ceaufort Gyre – forcing water together a creating the bulge.

The believe winds and currents have transported this freshwater, from melting ice and river run-off, around the ocean until it has been pulled into the gyre.

The team plans to further investigate the relationship between sea-ice cover and wind changes.

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