New Wave Media

December 9, 2019

#Oi2020 History

Photo Courtesy of National Oceanography Centre

Photo Courtesy of National Oceanography Centre

 In 2015, researchers at the National Oceanography Center (NOC) used Royal Navy submarine data to investigate the nature of turbulence in the ocean beneath the Arctic sea-ice. This is mainly because recent decreases in Arctic sea ice may have a big impact on the circulation, chemistry and biology of the Arctic Ocean, because of ice-free waters becoming more turbulent.

By revealing more about how these turbulent motions distribute energy within the ocean, the findings from this study provide information important for accurate predictions of the future of the Arctic Ocean. The melting of Arctic sea-ice is expected to be accelerated as the cold, fresh layer of water just beneath the ice mixes with a relatively warm, salty layer below it. This mixing is caused by turbulent motions, such as internal waves and eddy currents, which are likely to increase as the sea-ice thins and breaks up, causing a positive feedback effect.

The study as published in the Journal of Geophysical Research Letters, identified differences in how energy is distributed by turbulent motions in the Arctic when compared to open, ice-free seas. The findings also showed that the turbulence was very similar in Arctic regions with high and low amounts of sea-ice. This suggests that the turbulence in the Arctic is therefore altered by the way sea-ice affects the structure and stability of the water column, rather than just by the ice acting as a lid protecting the ocean from the wind.
 
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Arctic OceanArctic seaenergy