Arctic Ocean waves measuring up to 16 feet in the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska have shocked scientists, since last they saw the area; it was still completely covered in ice. This is the first time that such massive Arctic Ocean waves have been recorded in Arctic waters. Oceanographers suspect the Arctic Ocean waves to speed the breakup of the region's remaining ice, hence hastening a potential ice-free summer in the Arctic.
The large Arctic Ocean waves could also reportedly pose an additional threat to global warming as it could also trigger green house gases to escalate.
According to The Washington Post, a study published in Geophysical Research Letters said that the big Arctic Ocean waves buffeting the area which was then covered in ice is another sign of global warming.
The largest of the Arctic Ocean waves neared 29 feet already, and scientists are saying that the magnitude of the waves have high potential of causing further sea ice melt. According to the National Geographic, the high and hard Arctic Ocean waves can break up sea ice, which allows more sunlight to warm the oceans, and can thus trigger a cycle that leads to even less ice, more wind, and higher waves.
Scientists had never measured the Arctic Ocean waves in the Beaufort Sea until now. Much of the region is reportedly now ice-free by September.
According to Darek Bogucki, a physical oceanographer who works in the Arctic said that the big Arctic Ocean waves could now become a new normal in the Arctic.
Bogucki added that this "new normal" would mean a change in shorelines, which could also speed erosion as the waves get larger and larger. Another potential problem that the Arctic Ocean waves could pose is the change in the amount of carbon dioxide exchanged between the atmosphere and the ocean. The waves could reportedly potentially trigger the Arctic to release more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, according to researchers who first made the analysis of the Arctic Ocean waves in 2012 reported in the journal "Geophysical Research Letters" that there's a high chance for the melted water to span the entire Arctic Ocean by the middle of the century.
He added of the Arctic Ocean waves, 'The melting has been going on for decades. What we're talking about with the waves is potentially a new process, a mechanical process, in which the waves can push and pull and crash to break up the ice.'
Together with Erick Rogers, Thomson's colleague in the study and from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Mississippi, they gathered the measurements of the Arctic Ocean waves through sensors anchored on the sea floor, 150 feet under the surface of the Beaufort Sea.
Tech Times reports them also having mentioned that they were in the process of placing several dozens of similar sensors in the Arctic Ocean to analyze the physics of sea ice retreat and the increasing presence of heavy seas.
Thomson said, 'Almost all of the casualties and losses at sea are because of stormy conditions, and breaking waves are often the culprit.'
He added, 'At this point, we don't really know relative importance of these processes in future scenarios.'
Meanwhile, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the Arctic's sea ice is already decreasing rapidly this summer, with "the second half of June having the second fastest sea ice extent loss in satellite data records."
According to data from the University of Washington, sea ice thickness in 2014 has also been tracked as amongst the lowest four years on record. In a Tech Times report, 2012 also set a record low in Arctic sea ice extent, having showed an incredible and rapid drop in sea ice beginning in the late summer. 49 percent of the ice cap reportedly went missing that year, and sea ice extent dropped to an astonishing 18 percent below the 2007.
Unfortunately, the ice melting which causes Arctic Ocean waves are not only caused by heat, but are triggered by weather patterns above the ice as well.
Reports say that storms can accelerate or decelerate sea ice loss depending on timing and location. 2012 saw a massive Arctic storm which was enhanced by sea ice melt and pushed the year across the record line. As sea ice thins, stronger Arctic winds and waves will follow, and thus other ice becoming prone to breakage.
Also affected by an ice-free Arctic is our ability our capability to operate in the North Pole, may it be for oil drilling or trans-Arctic shipping. Already unfavourable weather topped with massive could present hazardous conditions for operations.
Arctic Ocean waves are caused by the steady loss of sea ice since the 1970s. But the loss has been accelerated in 2002, reports National Geographic. The reported 16-foot Arctic Ocean waves that scientists saw reportedly occurred during strong winds on Sept. 18, 2012.
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