2 november 2013

Study to focus on Arctic after Greenland Sea found to have warmed 10 times faster than global ocean

By Phoebe McDonald, ABC net 2 Nov 2013

Scientists have revealed plans to examine temperature changes in the Arctic Ocean after a long-term study found the Greenland Sea is warming 10 times faster than the global ocean.

Scientists from Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) analysed temperature data from the Greenland Sea between 1950 and 2010.

Their results show that during the past 30 years water temperatures between two kilometres deep and the ocean floor have risen by 0.3 degrees Celsius.

Dr Raquel Somavilla Cabrillo, AWI scientist and lead author of the study, says researchers are surprised by the results.

"For a long time it was considered that the deep Arctic region was in a stationary state ...[but] much more than we thought is changing," she said.

Dr Somavilla says that the contribution from the Greenland Sea to global rising sea levels is greater than expected, and that scientists must now examine the Arctic Ocean in more detail to fully understand how the world's oceans react to climate change.

"Because the changes in temperature are so fast - faster than the average of the rest of the ocean - then the contribution [to rising sea levels] is larger than expected for this region," she said.

"That is the reason that we have to look to the rest of the Arctic, because it may be similar, and then we will have to recalculate the contribution of the whole area."

Dr Somavilla says warmer water has been flowing from the Arctic Ocean into the Greenland Sea and the new research will focus on this area.

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