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Friday, October 05, 2007
Shrinkage of the North Polar Ice Cap and Pole-to-Pole Teleconnections

Guest Blog by Dr. R.J. Johnson, University of Minnesota

We now have a beautiful (but tricky) example how warming is affected the oceanic climate system. The rapid loss of North Polar perennial sea ice is now well documented. Two large areas of ice have been lost in the east and west Asian sectors in the last five years. In addition, the main outflow of ice from the polar region in the East Greenland current (brown arrow) today extends half way down the coast of Greenland, whereas in 2002 the seasonal flow had hardly started.


The increased outflow of ice and water is consistent with a recent Scandinavian report of increasing flow of the Norwegian current into the Arctic Ocean, and contrasts with the report of the Woods Hole oceanographers that the deep outflow from the Greenland Sea (that forms the conveyor belt) was slowing. But it all makes sense, what goes in must come out somewhere, and if less deepwater comes out while the Norwegian Current is increasing, much more water must come out on the surface, and that water contains the meltwater from annual net loss of perennial ice. And the larger flow of low salinity water of the Greenland Current inhibits deepwater formation and the deep outflow that normally results.

Read more here about the polar ice cap and the Antarctic and why the changes may eventually lead to a new glaciation regardlesss of any increasing carbon dioxide.

Posted on 10/05 at 09:26 PM
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