|Fig. 1 Location of Beaufort Gyre|
In the first post of this series I focused on ingress into the Arctic Ocean from both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans (Mysterious Zones of The Arctic).
We saw that Pacific Ocean water made its way there through the Bering Sea and Bering Strait.
The Atlantic Ocean water made its way there by flowing north on the eastern side of Greenland (ibid).
The hypothesis in that post was that things have changed since the once-colder Pacific water is warming up and teaming up with already warmer Atlantic waters in the Beaufort Gyre.
The result of that mixing of the two warmer waters is possibly the cause of "multi-year ice" melt in the Lincoln Sea just north of Greenland.
Yes, even the multi-year ice is being impacted:
"Almost all of the ice to the north of Greenland is quite shattered and broken up and therefore more mobile," Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute told the Guardian. "Open water off the north coast of Greenland is unusual. This area has often been called 'the last ice area' as it has been suggested that the last perennial sea ice in the Arctic will occur here. The events of the last week suggest that, actually, the last ice area may be further west."(Strongest, Oldest Arctic Sea Ice Breaks Up for First Time, emphasis added). It turns out that the Bering Sea is also very surprisingly free of ice:
"Winter sea ice cover in the Bering Sea did not just hit a record low in 2018; it was half that of the previous lowest winter on record (2001), says John Walsh, chief scientist of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “There’s never ever been anything remotely like this for sea ice” in the Bering Sea going back more than 160 years, says Rick Thoman, an Alaska-based climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.(Mysterious Zones of The Arctic, emphasis added). In that post I pointed out that I suspect that the Beaufort Gyre is a player in these events.
But until recently the water there was reliably cold enough in autumn that when winds did blow from the north, sea ice would still spread. The last few years have seen unusually warm ocean waters in the Bering. Research meteorologist Nick Bond and others think this is “a lingering hangover” of a larger marine heat wave—dubbed “The Blob”—that lay off the west coast of the U.S. and Canadian mainland from 2014 to 2016. Bond, who works for NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, thinks some of those warm waters followed ocean currents up into the Bering and left a deep reservoir of warmth that impeded ice formation, although he has not yet formally studied this."
It seems that the Beaufort Gyre mixes the two ocean waters together more easily now that those waters are more alike in temperature and salinity.
II. Surprising Potential
The concern about the Beaufort Gyre is not only for the Greenland tidewater glaciers (Greenland 2.0, 2).
There is reason to be concerned even for climate impact on Europe (How a Wayward Arctic Current Could Cool the Climate in Europe).
Once again "sooner than expected" comes to mind (Early Collapse of Arctic Sea Ice Is Another Ominous Sign of Rapid Warming).
III. Close Monitoring Is In Order
At it turns out, the Beaufort Gyre is a mysterious place in WOD Zone 7714, which is unsurprisingly an area of intense interest and study by scientists (Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project, Scientists are keeping a close eye on the Beaufort Gyre).
As it also turns out, the Beaufort Gyre is not at all what I expected of Arctic waters, so I got busy finding more data with which to produce graphs.
I found that the Woods Hole Oceanography Institute has very good data of the location (Fig. 1).
They make it freely available in a very professional but easy-to-use way (Mooring Data Beaufort Gyre).
So I downloaded over 18,000 of their ".dat" files, then conformed them to the WOD data CSV format and placed them into a Dredd Blog SQL server database.
The 2018 data has not yet been posted online, but I will add that to the mix when it becomes available.
IV. The First Beaufort Gyre Graphs
In the first post of this series I did graphs of the zones at the entry way to the Arctic area where the Pacific and Atlantic waters flow north.
I haven't yet had time to do extensive graphing of the Gyre itself, as I did with those earlier graphs.
However, I furnished a peek with the graphs at Fig. 2a - Fig. 2d.
They show the dynamic of mixing as well as water at temperatures above freezing, with salinity increasing with depth.
This is a danger to sea ice in the Lincoln Sea, Arctic Ocean, and to the tidewater glaciers along the coast of Northern and Western Greenland.
Stay tuned if you like, I will have more detailed graphs of the mysterious Beaufort Gyre soon.
The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.