The world’s oceans are changing in large part due to human activities, whether it be pollution or global warming. The Arctic Ocean remained one of the least changed areas on the globe until recently. In addition to rapidly melting ice and species in decline, the Arctic is also changing in terms of how the water moves.
A recent study performed by Luc Rainville and Rebecca A. Woodgate from the University of Washington was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The study revolved around the increasingly turbulent waters of the Arctic. The ocean that was once quiet is now seeing an increase in the amount of waves and churning seen.
Due to the Arctic losing ice coverage, the ocean is seeing an increase in internal wave action. The ocean in the Arctic never functioned like the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, which are constantly churning water. The Arctic was considered the quiet ocean, but especially in the summer months the water is becoming more turbulent.
Sea ice generally eliminates waves, but now the water especially near continental shelves are seeing more action. This occurring will cause nutrients deep in the ocean to come to the surface, attracting phytoplankton and other species. Such an occurrence will possibly alter the Arctic food chain as we now know it.
In addition to altering the species residing in the area, especially in the summer, the increasing turbulence may also increase ice melting. Approximately 100 meters from the surface to below is a cold layer of water. Below this level is a warmer, salty layer of water. If the Arctic begins moving enough to mix the two layers ice will more rapidly melt.
Overall, the increasing movement of the Arctic waters is expected to impact the summer months more greatly than the winter.