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Loss of sea ice stirs up Arctic waters

Date:
January 4, 2010
Source:
American Geophysical Union
Summary:
The Arctic Ocean is generally considered a remarkably quiet ocean, with very little mixing, because a cover of sea ice prevents wind from driving the formation of internal waves. To study this effect and investigate how melting sea ice might affect ocean mixing in the Arctic, researchers analyzed data from moorings in the northern Chukchi Sea.

The Arctic Ocean is generally considered a remarkably quiet ocean, with very little mixing, because a cover of sea ice prevents wind from driving the formation of internal waves. To study this effect and investigate how melting sea ice might affect ocean mixing in the Arctic, Rainville and Woodgate analyze data from moorings in the northern Chukchi Sea.

They find that when the ocean was mostly covered with ice, even strong winds did not generate much response in it. On the other hand, during the summers when less sea ice was present, wind generated large internal oscillations and increased turbulence.

The extent of Arctic sea ice in the summer has been declining significantly in recent years, likely resulting in increased internal wave generation, the authors note. Because internal waves bring deeper waters closer to the surface, the results have important implications for Arctic Ocean ecosystems and ocean dynamics.

The research is published in Geophysical Research Letters. Authors include Luc Rainville and Rebecca A. Woodgate: Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Geophysical Union. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rainville et al. Observations of internal wave generation in the seasonally ice-free Arctic. Geophysical Research Letters, 2009; 36 (23): L23604 DOI: 10.1029/2009GL041291

Cite This Page:

American Geophysical Union. "Loss of sea ice stirs up Arctic waters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091230183301.htm>.
American Geophysical Union. (2010, January 4). Loss of sea ice stirs up Arctic waters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091230183301.htm
American Geophysical Union. "Loss of sea ice stirs up Arctic waters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091230183301.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

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