Turbulence Heating In The Artic Ocean Stems From Below The Surface

First Posted: Oct 07, 2015 11:30 AM EDT

Turbulence in the Arctic Ocean moved by wind might be coming from down underneath the surface, when it is cooking as steam, according to a recent study from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

"The strength of heat coming from below the surface has been as strong as the heat coming from the Sun," said Jennifer MacKinnon, the ArcticMix mission's chief scientist, from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.

The ArcticMix researchers compared the heat from underneath the surface to the sun, claiming that the source of heat is a layer of warm water that is saltier and denser than the water at the surface, according to a BBC report.

"There's a reservoir of heat in the Arctic Ocean, well beneath the surface, that historically when there's been a lot of ice has been fairly quiescent," MacKinnon said. "It's just been sitting as a warm, salty puddle beneath the surface."                 

Since the sea ice is melting, the researchers are concerned that more water will then be exposed to air, and the warm, salty pool will start to stir upwards. 

During their time in the Arctic, the researchers also found that the population for the puffins, walruses and polar bears was lower than usual. 

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