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ARCTIC ICE MELT IS DISRUPTING KEY OCEAN CURRENT, MAY ALTER CLIMATE IN WESTERN EUROPE

  • Ocean water current, which plays a key role in keeping Western Europe warm, could be altered by an influx of unprecedented amounts of cold, fresh water from melting ice in the Arctic
  • A seawater current called the Beaufort Gyre keeps the polar environment in balance by storing fresh water near the surface of the Arctic ocean.
  • Wind blows the gyre in a clockwise direction around the western Arctic Ocean, north of Canada, where it naturally collects fresh water from the melting of glaciers, and river runoff, the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, noted.
  • This fresh water is important in the Arctic since it floats above the warmer, salty water, and helps protect the sea ice from melting – in turn regulating the Earth’s climate.
  • However, since the 1990s, the researchers said, the gyre has accumulated a large amount of fresh water – 8,000 cubic kilometres – or almost twice the volume of Lake Michigan in the US.
  • The cause of this gain in freshwater concentration is the loss of sea ice in summer and autumn.
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November 2022
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