Mechanisms underlying recent Arctic Atlantification

Asbjørnsen, H., Årthun, M., Skagseth, Ø., Eldevik, T. 2020: Mechanisms underlying recent Arctic Atlantification. Geophys. Res. Lett. .
Summary: Recent “Atlantification” of the Arctic is characterized by warmer ocean temperatures and a reduced sea ice cover. The Barents Sea is a “hot spot” for these changes, something which has broad socioeconomic and environmental impacts in the region. However, there is, at present, no complete understanding of what is causing the ocean warming. Here, we determine the relative importance of transport of heat by ocean currents (ocean advection) and heat exchanges between the atmosphere and the ocean (air-sea heat fluxes) in warming the Barents Sea and Fram Strait. In the ice-free region, ocean advection is found to be the main driver of the warming trend due to increasing inflow temperatures between 1996 and 2006. In the marginal ice zone and the ice-covered northern Barents Sea, ocean advection and air-sea heat fluxes are found to be of interchanging importance in driving the warming trend through the 1993–2014 period analyzed. A better understanding of the recent warming trends in the Barents Sea and Fram Strait has implications for how we understand the ocean’s role in ongoing and future Arctic climate change.

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