For decades, warmer waters seeping into the Arctic Ocean have increasingly threatened Arctic sea ice, with scientists predicting the ice pack could disappear entirely in summers from the middle of the next decade.
Researchers have now uncovered one of the mechanisms driving this catastrophe, identifying how ‘heat bombs’ of warm, salty water from the Pacific Ocean flow into the frigid Arctic Ocean, heating the ice above from underneath for months or even years.
“The rate of accelerating sea ice melt in the Arctic has been hard to predict accurately, in part because of all of the complex local feedbacks between ice, ocean, and atmosphere,” says physical oceanographer Jennifer MacKinnon from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
“This work showcases the large role in warming that ocean water plays as part of those feedbacks.”
These swirling heat bombs can last for…