Monday, January 31, 2011

Water flowing into the Arctic Ocean is 'warmest it's been for more than 2,000 years'

-Scientists fear temperature rise could lead to an Ice-free Artic, endangering polar bears.

Water flowing from the North Atlantic into the Arctic is at its warmest level for more than 2,000 years.

The sea in the Gulf Stream between Greenland and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard reached an average of 6C (42F) in recent summers, warmer than at natural peaks during Roman or Medieval times.

Scientists fear the temperature spikes could lead to an ice-free Arctic in years to come and could endanger polar bears, who need the ice in order to survive.

Such changes could also lead to rising sea levels around the world and ‘drastic changes’ to the environment, researchers have concluded.

The latest findings were presented by scientists at the University of Colorado in Boulder who examined tiny plankton-like organisms on the seabed of the Fram strait, which is is the main carrier of ocean heat to the Arctic.

As data from the water only goes back 150 years, they had to drill into sediment on the ocean’s sea bed to find organisms dating back 2,000 years and then analysed their chemical composition to determine past water temperatures. Read more...