Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rising Surface Temperatures Drive Back Winter Ice in Barents Sea

19.09.2007
Not so between Siberia and Alaska, where winter sea ice holds its own

Rising sea-surface temperatures in the Barents Sea, northeast of Scandinavia, are the prime cause of the retreating winter ice edge over the past 26 years, according to research by Jennifer Francis, associate research professor at Rutgers’ Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (IMCS). The recent decreases in winter ice cover is clear evidence that Arctic pack ice will continue on its trajectory of rapid decline, Francis said.

In a paper published in Geophysical Review Letters, Francis and Elias Hunter, a research specialist in Francis’ laboratory, found that the rising average winter-time sea-surface temperature of the Barents Sea – up 3 degrees Celsius since 1980 – is likely driven by increasing greenhouse gases, which in turn are melting more ice. Francis and Hunter used satellite information dating back 26 years to perform their study.

Scientists have known for some time that the extent of perpetual, summer ice cover in the Arctic has been shrinking, but until the past few years, the average amount of winter ice has been relatively steady. The winter ice amount is important because if it begins to decrease, scientists believe it is an indicator that enough extra heat from the sun is being absorbed in summer in new open water areas so that the ice grows less in winter and is more easily melted the following summer, leading to even less summer ice. The record-breaking ice loss this year is further, dramatic evidence that this process is underway. While satellites can see the recent winter ice retreat, no one knew until now what was driving the ice back. Francis said she and Hunter were surprised when they discovered that warming ocean temperatures – and not atmospheric effects – were the main source of winter ice retreat, and that the warming is linked to general rising temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean via the Gulf Stream, which brings Atlantic water into the Barents Sea. “In the Barents Sea, I expected more influence from atmospheric heating; but it [the retreat of the ice edge] seems to be governed almost entirely by warming from the ocean,” Francis said.

Should the warming trend continue -- and all indications are that it will -- there would be considerable economic and political implications. “Fishing, shipping, oil exploration will all be easier to do in the Arctic if there is less ice around for a shorter time,” Francis said.

Francis and Hunter were in for another surprise in the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Siberia. That sea is virtually cut off from the Pacific Ocean by the Aleutian Islands. The researchers expected the ice edge there to be pushed around by northerly and southerly winds, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, it was the strength or weakness of the Aleutian Low – a semi-permanent storm with predominantly easterly winds in much of the Bering Sea – that determined the ice edge. In years when the low was weak – when the east wind didn’t blow as hard – the ice edge crept farther south. In years when the east winds blew hard, the ice edge retreated northward. The strength of the Aleutian Low oscillates in cycles lasting 10 to 20 years, Francis said, and right now, appears to be in a weak cycle. That means that the ice edge in the Bering Sea, not exposed to the world’s ocean system like its Barents Sea counterpart, has not retreated as much. Computer models predict, however, that the Aleutian Low will strengthen as the global climate system adapts to increasing greenhouse gases.

Contact: Ken Branson
732-932-7084, Ext. 633
E-mail: kbranson@ur.rutgers.edu

Ken Branson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rutgers.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology
22.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

nachricht How reliable are shells as climate archives?
21.06.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>