The Arctic, one of the planet’s most sensitive regions to climate change
The Arctic is one of the planet’s most sensitive regions to climate change. This fact is shown by the rhythm of ice melting at the North pole and by the episodes of weakening and laxity of the Arctic polar vortex, an area of low pressures that prevents cold air from escaping from the pole, which has been also linked to climate change. These episodes of weakening of the Arctic polar vortex are responsible for the freezing weather that occasionally occur in the United States and Northern Europe because of the escape of cold air from the polar zone.
These already known phenomena are not the only ones that show the sensitivity of this region to climate change. An international study led by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Finnish Meteorological Institute, recently published in Frontiers in Marine Science, has shown the effect of anomalous flows of ocean water from the Atlantic and the Pacific on the Arctic Ocean, in a process that they have defined as “borealization”. This study shows the differences between the two basins of the Arctic Ocean: the Eurasian, influenced by the warm and salty water of the Atlantic, where the mixing processes between the surface and deep water are favored and there is a high oceanic production as more nutrients are available (contributed by deep water masses), but that mixing process also promotes ice melting; and the Amerasian, influenced by the Pacific water and by local processes of ice melting and accumulation of fresh water that occur, promoting the opposite process, the stratification of the masses of surface and deep water.
Thus, the study shows and alerts about the changes at a physical, chemical and biological levels that are taking place in the Arctic Ocean, being so important that one of the scientists participating in the study considers that “in many aspects now the Arctic Ocean seems a new ocean”. How this new reality will affect and what changes it will cause to ocean circulation and distribution of organisms is difficult to predict now. What seems clear is that we are facing a new process promoted by climate change that affects a fundamental and already sensitive region. We will see.
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