London: A new study has suggested that the Arctic Ocean has been getting warmer since the beginning of the 20th century – decades earlier than the records have previously suggested. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Science Advances’.
An international group of researchers reconstructed the recent history of ocean warming at the gateway to the Arctic Ocean in a region called the Fram Strait, between Greenland and Svalbard.
Using the chemical signatures found in marine microorganisms, the researchers found that the Arctic Ocean began warming rapidly at the beginning of the last century as warmer and saltier waters flowed in from the Atlantic – a phenomenon called Atlantification – and that this change likely preceded the warming documented by modern instrumental measurements. Since 1900, the ocean temperature has risen by approximately 2 degrees Celsius, while sea ice has retreated and salinity has increased.
All of the world’s oceans are warming due to climate change, but the Arctic Ocean, the smallest and shallowest of the world’s oceans, is warming fastest of all. As it gets warmer, it causes the ice in the polar region to melt, which in turn affects global sea levels. As the ice melts, it exposes more of the ocean’s surface to the sun, releasing heat and raising air temperatures.