Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Higher Water Temperatures and Reduced Ice Cover In the Arctic Ocean


Over the past six weeks, scientists aboard the research vessel "Polarstern" of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research have been investigating changes in ocean temperature and sea ice cover in the area of Fram Strait between Spitsbergen and Greenland.

In this area significant exchange of water masses between the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean takes place. The ongoing process of global warming throughout the past years has also altered conditions in Fram Strait and the North Polar Sea.

Recordings of temperature measurements in Fram Strait at various water depths indicate a rise in temperature since 1990 in the West Spitsbergen Current, which carries warm Atlantic Ocean water into the Arctic Ocean. The recent measurements by oceanographers aboard "Polarstern" point towards a further warming tendency. Compared to the previous year, temperatures recorded in the upper 500 metres of ocean current were up to 0.6 °C higher this year. The rise in temperature was detectable to a water depth of 2000 metres, representing an exceptionally strong signal by ocean standards. Consequently, the influx of warmer water causes a change in sea ice cover. Satellite images have documented a clear recession of sea ice edges in the Fram Strait region and in the Barents Sea over the last three years.

Climate processes are not only affected by the horizontal extent of sea ice, but also by its thickness. In order to determine ice thickness, the sea ice research group of the Alfred Wegener Institute has, over the past years, developed an airborne ice thickness sensor. It is towed by helicopter approximately 30 metres above ground and can cover up to 100 kilometres distance within one hour. This method allows construction of a representative picture of sea ice thickness. The thickness sensor is validated by flying the helicopter over a series of drilled ice holes (of known depth) arrayed along a transect line. In this way the precision of the sensor can be confirmed.

An exceptional type of comparison between measurements was carried out on Wednesday off the East Greenland coast, where "Polarstern" met the British research icebreaker "James Clark Ross": for the very first time in the history of sea ice research, sea ice topography was measured simultaneously from above and below. For this purpose, a British autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) scanned the underside of the sea ice using sonar, while the sea ice physicists of the Alfred Wegener Institute evaluated the ice surface as well as its thickness from above, using the helicopter-towed ice thickness sensor.

These activities served as preparation for the calibration of the satellite "CryoSat". Starting in March 2005, "CryoSat" will measure sea ice thickness continually from a height of 700 kilometres in both polar regions. The quantification of sea ice thickness and its changes are of great importance in international climate research. Sea ice has a key role in climate systems and is considered a sensitive indicator of climate fluctuations. "CryoSat" will be used to investigate whether regional changes occur in all polar regions as a consequence of global warming.

Presently, "Polarstern" is on her 20th Arctic expedition. Since July 16th, scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research have been working as part of an international team carrying out atmospheric chemical measurements, gathering data from the ocean and sea ice and collecting rock samples from the sea floor. On Sunday, "Polarstern" will reach Tromsø.

Torsten Fischer | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union

nachricht UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>