Could the Arctic be coming out of hibernation?

Mar 16, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Reduced ice cover in the Arctic Ocean could be the reason why the UK has experienced colder winters recently.

The ice has acted to insulate temperature changes in the sea from the atmosphere. But as the ice decreases in coverage this could have a consequent effect on our climate.

“Some climatologists believe the absence of north of Siberia last autumn allowed the warmer open ocean to heat the atmosphere, resulting in changed wind patterns and the development of a “blocking” atmospheric high pressure system over Siberia. This then results in cold air being channelled south from the Arctic, over northern Europe,” explains Dr Tom Rippeth of Bangor University.

Scientists at the University have also just discovered that the , is not as tranquil as previously supposed by oceanographers and this too could have an effect on the climate.

New measurements by Yueng-Djern Lenn, Chris Old and Tom Rippeth of the University’s School of Ocean Sciences show for the first time that there are occasional bursts of turbulence beneath the Arctic ice which mix adjacent water layers together.

According to the new findings, there is considerably more of this mixing when there is no sea ice insulating the sea surface from the atmosphere.

Such mixing events are important. Under the ice they can bring heat from the ocean interior to warm the underside of the ice, whilst in open water they can take heat from the surface layers, which have been warmed by the sun, into the ocean interior.

Commenting Dr Tom Rippeth said: “These results are highly significant as they are helping us to understand the role of sea ice in the Arctic and in particular how it impacts heat exchange between the ocean interior and the .”

“They imply that the Arctic Ocean will become much more turbulent in a warming world. We are already seeing a big reduction in the extent of sea ice cover, particularly during the summer months, and so there is a lot more mixing going on.”

“What we could be seeing is the Arctic coming out of hibernation, and the question we must consider is what impact this will have on our here in the UK.”

Indeed some scientists believe that we may already be feeling the effects of disappearing Arctic sea ice, through more serve winters, such as those endured during the past couple of winters in the UK.

Explore further: Tropical Storm Marie forms in Pacific off Mexico

More information: The paper Vertical Mixing at intermediate depth in the Arctc boundary current Authors YD Lenn, PJ Wiles, S Torres-Valdes, EP Abraham TP Rippeth, JH Simpson, S Bacon, SW Laxon, I Poluakov, V Ivanon and S Kirillov published in Geophysical Research Letters L05601, doi:10.1029/2008GL036792

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MikeyK
not rated yet Mar 16, 2011
All that ice melting (depth as well as extent) must have had a cooling effect on the oceans. I put an ice cube in my G & T and somehow makes the tumblerfull cold .....the ice sheets look like one hell of a giant ice cube!!
The reduction in sea ice depth must also affect the currents directions and rate of flows....interesting times
freethinking
2 / 5 (4) Mar 16, 2011
Temps get warmer.... its man made global warming.... temps get colder.... its man made global warming .... glacier growing ..... its man made global warming .... glaciers retreating .... its man made global warming .... have more hurricanes ... its man made global warming .... have fewer hurricanes ... its man made global warming .... more snow ... its man made global warming .... less snow ... its man made global warming .... more rain ... its man made global warming ... less rain ... its man made global warming...

How do I know this, because Al Gore told me so. Lets raise taxes and give it to Al Gore and his friends to fight more/less snow, rain, glaciers, hurricanes. Of course they wouldn't use that money to fly around the world in their private jets, or build mansions for themselves or buy monster SUV's to drive them around would they?
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Mar 16, 2011
Of course they wouldn't use that money to fly around the world in their private jets, or build mansions for themselves or buy monster SUV's to drive them around would they?
All the more reason to increase the top marginal tax rate, don't you think?
freethinking
1 / 5 (2) Mar 18, 2011
Only for progressive and leftists. The more progressive a person is the less they give to charities. Just ask Al Gore. He is more than happy to take your money, but not willing to give any of his freely.