Arctic warming continues

Long-term examinations continued in the Framstra e

Traveling in the Arctic Ocean © Ursula Schauer, AWI
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The trend towards warming the Arctic Ocean continues. This is confirmed by data that the German research vessel "Maria S. Merian" brought back a few days ago from its second Arctic expedition.

"The water that flows from the Norwegian Sea into the Arctic is an average of almost 0.8 degrees Celsius warmer this summer than last summer, " says Dr. Ursula Schauer from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, the leader of the expedition. "The last two years were already warmer than the 20 years before, where regular measurements are available. Over the Yermak Plateau, a submarine ridge, oceanographers have measured that over 4 degrees Celsius warm water penetrates to 81 ° 20 'north, "said Schauer. During the expedition, biologists discovered species of animal plankton from Lake Norway, which had penetrated the warm waters to the northern latitudes where they had not previously been observed.

So far northernmost position

For a month scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, the University of Bremen and the Polish Institute of Oceanography on the edge of sea ice between Greenland and Spitsbergen were tracking the warm waters. This year, the sea ice border was far to the north. So "Maria S. Merian" reached her so far northernmost position at 81 ° 20'N.

At Framstrasse, the scientists continued oceanographic and biological long-term studies that started ten years ago. Climate change observed in recent decades is particularly pronounced in the Arctic. Oceanographers are working to better understand the role of the oceans in this process. Open questions are how much heat is pumped through the northernmost spur of the warm North Atlantic current into the Arctic and how much this heat pump varies. Since 1997, the transport of warm, salty water from the Atlantic into the Arctic has been measured on a complex anchoring system in the strait between Greenland and Spitsbergen.

Warming from the Atlantic

The previous measurements have shown that there were several strong heat pulses in the past decade. The combination of these and similar data was used as part of an international program to reconstruct for the first time how a heat surge from the Atlantic would continue over several years through the Norwegian Sea to the interior of the Arctic. In order to continue the time series, the scientists have taken up the devices anchored in the Framstraße and replaced them with new ones. The automated long-term measurements are checked and supplemented by detailed measurements of the current water temperature. display

The investigations are part of a European research project that investigates the long-term development of the Arctic through modeling and observation (DAMOCLES Developing Arctic Modeling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies). The focus is on the interplay of sea ice, atmosphere and ocean. One goal of the project is to investigate the potential effects of drastically reduced sea ice on the climate and thus on the environment and humans, both regionally and globally.

(Alfred Wegener Institute, 05.10.2006 - AHE)