Pools of warm water have accumulated deep beneath the Arctic ice, according to scientists from Yale University, and they say that could be cause for alarm.
Yale professor Mary-Louise Timmermans and her team looked at thirty years of measurements from ships called icebreakers that traverse the Arctic Ocean in the Canada Basin, north of Canada and Alaska.
“And we found that the heat content in this warm layer that sits just below the surface in the Arctic Ocean, we found that layer was gaining heat,” Timmerman said.
Every summer, the sun warms up the open water around the Arctic Ocean, and the wind pushes that warm water north, down under the surface layer of the Arctic Ocean and into the deep ocean. But with climate change, the Arctic ice caps have been retreating every year.
“Every summer we see more and more open water regions as the sea ice packs become smaller and smaller. And those allow for the sun to shine directly onto the ocean and warm it up. So those waters are becoming more and more warm, year after year.”
Timmerman says if that warm water continues to grow, it could slow the natural expansion of ice in the Arctic Ocean every winter. And if it reached the surface, it could entirely melt the sea ice on the ocean’s surface. She says scientists will continue to study the warm water to see if they can learn more about it.