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.
Torsten Fischer | alfa
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