Atlantification of the Arctic Ocean from Ongoing Sea Ice Annihilation, and Risks of a Slowing AMOC

Paul Beckwith

Sep 5, 2020

In this second of a new series of Arctic sea ice demise videos I chat about the demise of the slushy in the Arctic Ocean. We are nearing the yearly minimum, with only a few weeks of melt remaining, and it is really coming down to the wire as to whether or not we will set a new record, beating out 2012 or being a close second. In 2012 we had solid ice remaining, whereas this year we only have an ocean of slushy thin ice cubes remaining. This ice is moving faster than before, and since the surface is rougher it is easier for the wind to grab it and set it in motion, and the IceSat is able to detect waves from far away storms propagating under the ice further sloshing it around and mixing the colder near freezing surface water with warmer saltier Atlantic water from below, leading to so called “Atlantification” of the surface water. In this video series I discuss in detail the recent peer reviewed scientific papers on how Atlantic Water (dense, warmer water a couple hundred of meters below the sea ice) has moved within 80 meters of the bottom of the sea ice in the Eastern Euro Basin, and will likely keep the ocean from freezing up there in the winter. The heat in their Atlantic Water is enough to completely melt out the entire Arctic Ocean ice three or four times over, as it eventually makes it near the surface over the entire basin. This already happens in the Barents Sea region, and is spreading eastward into the rest of the Arctic. I will also discuss how the so called “chimneys” where the Arctic Ocean water descends to complete the AMOC (Arctic Meridional Overturning Circulation), and how this process is being disrupted by Atlantification, thereby weakening the thermohaline process leading is closer us closer to a complete shutoff and then redistribution of global ocean circulation patterns. Wow!!

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