Loss of Thick Multi-year Sea-Ice From the Arctic Ocean

Jan. 21, 2015

by Jay T. Cullen

Our research group has been working to understand how regional warming being experienced in the Arctic is likely to affect the physics, chemistry and biology of the Arctic Ocean.  Melting of seasonal sea-ice and the loss of multi-year ice (ice that escapes melting each summer) has become more pronounced over the last ~30 years.  Melting sea-ice adds freshwater to the Arctic, allows more wind driven mixing and changes nutrient and light fields that affect how much primary production (algae growth) is likely to occur.

Specifically we are interested in how these physical changes impact the distribution and availability of trace metals which can be nutrients (e.g. iron and zinc) or toxins (e.g. cadmium and lead) for the marine biota.

This new movie below was produced by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate.gov team using data provided by Mark Tschudi to demonstrate how progressively more extensive summer sea-ice melt leads to melting and export of thick, perennial sea-ice from the Arctic Ocean.  Climate change is making for interesting times in the Arctic Ocean.  Our team will be working in the high Arctic this summer and fall as part of the international GEOTRACES program.


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