Ice transport drives salinity changes in the Southern Ocean

Article in Nature, Vol. 537, Issue 7618, pp. 89, “Sea-ice transport driving Southern Ocean salinity and its recent trends”


Summary of article: Northward movement of sea ice and freshening of the northern sectors of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica has been shown to account for the observed salinity distribution change in the area. The study highlights the critical role that sea ice helps modulate the salinity, and critically, density of water around Antarctica, which is important for various purposes, chief of which is the rate of melting of glaciers on the continent. With lower salinity due to freshwater infusion, seawater around the continent would remain on the surface, and with a warming world, would lead to increased melting of seaward moving glaciers. Additionally, retention of low salinity water at the surface prevents the upwelling of cold water from the deep ocean. This prevents nutrients necessary to support the complex marine ecosystem at the surface to be brought up to the surface, and where the cold deep water helps reduce the rate of warming at the surface. Hence, understanding sea ice transport is critical to an appreciation of the rate of melting of glaciers on Antarctica as well as the rate of warming in its surrounding ocean.


Link to original article:


Category: Interesting scientific articles, climate change,

Tags: sea ice transport, upwelling, low salinity freshwater, glacier, Southern Ocean,




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