Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Discover Why The North Pole Is Frozen

Date:
March 2, 2005
Source:
Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona
Summary:
Ice has been building up in the Arctic for 2.7 million years. Until now, no one has been able to prove what mechanism brought about this accumulation of ice. However, a team of international scientists has discovered the mechanism that set off the accumulation of ice.

Antoni Rosell (photograph by Jordi Pareto)

Ice has been building up in the Arctic for 2.7 million years. Until now, no one has been able to prove what mechanism brought about this accumulation of ice. However, a team of international scientists led by Antoni Rosell, a researcher for the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and Gerald H. Haug of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany) has discovered the mechanism that set off the accumulation of ice.

A sudden fall in average world temperatures 2.7 million years ago caused the Arctic Ocean to freeze and Europe and North America to become covered in ice. The reason seems obvious: the cold temperatures caused ice to build up. But the drop in average temperatures is not enough to explain why so much ice built up and has remained to this day. For many years, scientists have been speculating on what caused this accumulation of ice and have proposed many theories.

A team of international scientists led by Antoni Rosell, a researcher for the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies and the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and Gerald H. Haug of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany) has discovered the mechanism that set off the accumulation of ice. The researchers have worked mainly with existing data from the remains of marine organisms that have built up over the years, as well as with climate models.

According to the research, the most important change during the period was a 7ºC (13ºF) increase in the difference between summer and winter temperatures within just a few centuries. The summers became warmer and the winters cooler, causing more water to evaporate from the sea into the atmosphere during the summer. The air became more humid and snowfall increased. When Winter set in, the sharp decrease in temperatures enabled ice to build up.

But what brought about this difference in temperatures? The researchers are the first to find evidence showing that this was caused by the stratification of ocean water, due to an increase in freshwater. This means that water mixed less than previously, forming layers of different densities in different strata and at different depths. When spring came, the layers closest to the surface began to heat up. Since the water did not mix, the temperature of those layers continued to rise, and increasing amounts of water evaporated. During the summer months, this effect intensified, as higher temperatures increase stratification; in winter, however, the water began mixing again, and temperatures dropped more than in previous years.

The authors of the research have reconstructed the seasonal changes in temperature in the North Pacific by reinterpreting the data obtained from analysing the remains of marine organisms and by checking these temperatures using a climate model. This reconstruction shows how the ocean, in terms of its surface temperature and its size during different seasons, and water evaporation from the sea can generate significant general changes to the climate, as well as more intense glacial cycles and a general cooling of the planet's temperatures.

According to Antoni Rosell, "through this research we can understand in greater detail why climate change occurs, and more specifically, the role of the ocean in producing climate change. This information will improve climate models used to predict how today's climate will change in the future".


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona. "Scientists Discover Why The North Pole Is Frozen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050224121232.htm>.
Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona. (2005, March 2). Scientists Discover Why The North Pole Is Frozen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050224121232.htm
Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona. "Scientists Discover Why The North Pole Is Frozen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050224121232.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins