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Barents Sea Warming

Barents Sea Warming

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As per a recent study published by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, parts of the Arctic region near Norway has been warming at as much as seven times the rate of warming in the rest of the world.

About the News

  • The region around the northern Barents Seahas been warming two to two-and-a-half times the average warming of the Arctic region and five to seven times the warming in the rest of the world.
  • Such intense warming has never been observed in the Arctic region before which is leading to the phenomenon of 

Atlantification

  • Scientists have discovered‘hotspots’ where some parts of the Barents Sea have started closely resembling the Atlantic. This phenomenon has been termed 
  • Thenorth-flowing ocean currents transport the warm waters of the Atlantic into the Arctic Ocean through the Barents Sea.

 

    • Unlike the Atlantic and Pacific, the waters of the Eurasian Arctic Ocean get warmer as they get deeper.
    • The top of the ocean is typically covered by sea ice. Below this is a layer of cool freshwater, followed by a deeper layer of warmer, saltier water delivered to the Arctic from the Atlantic by ocean currents.
  • According to NASA data, the total area covered by sea ice in this region has fallen by almost half since 1980s.
    • A possible reason for this is that, when sea ice melts through the summer, it replenishes the freshwater layer that sits above the warmer Atlantic layer.
    • With less sea ice around, the amount of freshwater dwindles, this, in turn, causes the ocean to mix together, drawing more Atlantic heat up towards the surface.
    • This “Atlantification” can, in turn, cause more ice to melt from below.
    • Climate changedue to Anthropogenic factors has been accelerating the Atlantification process and this will in turn significantly affect the weather patterns, ocean circulations, and the entire Arctic ecosystem.

Consequences of the Warming

  • Extreme weather: The exceptional warming of the Arctic could lead to more extreme weather in North America, Europe and Asia.
    • The extreme weather events south of the Arctic are linked to the region’s warming through the Arctic jet stream.
    • The jet stream that usually keeps the cold Arctic air within the region, due to excessive and rapid warming is causing it to become wavierdue to which, the cold air is interacting more frequently with the warm air from the lower latitudes, leading to extreme weather event.
  • Rapid and voluminous melting of Ice: As the Arctic region warms, the sea ice melts and exposes the ocean surface below. The surface absorbs more energy than sea ice would have and enhances the warming, making more sea ice melt, forming a feedback loop.

  • First Recorded Rainfall at Summit Station Greenland: The rapid warming of the Arctic region has already thrown up weird weather such as the first recorded rainfall at the Summit Station of Greenlandin 2021 and back-to-back storms.
  • Increased Lightning strikes: Lightning strikes,which were once rare in the region, have increased by eight times in the last decade.
  • Adverse Impact on Marine Ecosystem: The warming of the region has resulted in the northward shift and increase in abundance of Atlantic fish speciesand a decrease in the endemic Arctic fish species.
  • Extreme Snowfall: There has been an extreme snowfall event recorded, often dubbed as the ‘Beast from the East’, across most of Europe in 2018 which was a result of evaporation of over 140 gigatonnes of water from the Barents Sea that contributed to 88% of the snow that fell across Europe.

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