Sigrid Lind, Randi B. Ingvaldsen, Tore Furevik

Nature Climate Change

Published date June 25, 2018

Arctic warming hotspot in the northern Barents Sea linked to declining sea-ice import

  • States the Arctic has warmed dramatically in recent decades, with greatest temperature increases observed in the northern Barents Sea
  • States the warming signatures are not constrained to the atmosphere, but extend throughout the water column
  • Uses a compilation of hydrographic observations from 1970 to 2016 to investigate the link between changing sea-ice import and this Arctic warming hotspot
  • Finds a sharp increase in ocean temperature and salinity from the mid-2000s
  • Shows the sharp increase in ocean temperature and salinity can be linked to a recent decline in sea-ice import and a corresponding loss in freshwater, leading to weakened ocean stratification, enhanced vertical mixing and increased upward fluxes of heat and salt that prevent sea-ice formation and increase ocean heat content
  • Deduces the northern Barents Sea may soon complete the transition from a cold and stratified Arctic to a warm and well-mixed Atlantic-dominated climate regime
  • Concludes that such a shift would have unknown consequences for the Barents Sea ecosystem, including ice-associated marine mammals and commercial fish stocks