Beaufort Gyre and unusual flows of warm water
The Beaufort Gyre is a slowly spinning whorl of cold, relatively fresh water and sea ice, partly driven by winds. It tends to hold sea ice in place for several years. Weaken the Beaufort Gyre and multi-year sea ice is more inclined to spill out through the Fram Strait into the North Atlantic, melting as it goes. This appears to be happening. Rapid export of sea ice from the Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic has been observed in recent years. At the same time, unusual flows of warm water have been measured entering the Arctic Ocean from both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Although warmer, these water masses sink below the colder Arctic water, because they are saltier and therefore heavier. How they affect the behavior of Arctic Ocean circulations and sea ice is not known.
Citation: AMAP, 2012. Arctic Climate Issues 2011: Changes in Arctic Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost. SWIPA 2011 Overview Report. Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Oslo. xi + 97pp
Copyright: AMAP, 2012
Region: arctic ocean