Home International Melting sea ice stirs up Arctic Ocean

Melting sea ice stirs up Arctic Ocean


Washington : The Arctic Ocean is usually considered quiet, with very little mixing, because of a cover of sea ice. A new study reveals that the extent of sea ice in the summer has been declining significantly, possibly generating more internal waves.

To investigate how melting ice might affect ocean mixing in the Arctic, Luc Rainville and Rebecca A. Woodgate of the Applied Physics Lab at the University of Washington (UW) analysed data from moorings in the northern Chukchi Sea.

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

But the ice cover of the Arctic sea is declining, says a UW release.

Because internal waves bring deeper waters closer to the surface, the results have important implications for Arctic Ocean ecosystems and ocean dynamics.

The research was published in Geophysical Research Letters.