Strong winds and High Waves hit Arctic Ocean


Strong winds and high waves are hitting the Arctic Ocean from both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

Above image shows waves as high as 12.36 m or 40.5 ft near Greenland on December 8, 2015.

The image on the right shows cyclonic winds with speeds as high as 142 km/h or 88 mph near Greenland on December 8, 2015.

The image further down on the right shows that waves as high as 14.04 m or 46.1 ft are forecast to hit the Aleutian Islands on December 13, 2015. Strong winds and high waves are forecast to subsequently keep moving in the direction of the Arctic Ocean.

The image below shows strong winds and high waves that are heading for Arctic Ocean, with waves as high as 17.18 m or 56.4 ft forecast to be moving toward the Arctic Ocean on December 13, 2015.

As warming continues, this situation can be expected to get worse, with extreme weather events hitting the Arctic Ocean with ever greater intensity.


The video below, created with Climate Reanalyzer images, shows strong winds over the period from December 5 to 15, 2015. The video illustrates how cyclonic winds are hitting the Arctic Ocean both from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.


Such winds and waves can move a lot of warm water into the Arctic Ocean. There currently is only a very thin layer of sea ice present in the Bering Strait, which is prone to be broken up by strong waves. Moreover, warm water may move underneath the sea ice and cause warm water to mix down all the way to the seafloor, where it can destabilize sediments containing huge amounts of methane in the form of free gas and hydrates.

Furthermore, strong winds can dramatically speed up the currents that are moving sea ice out of the Arctic Ocean into the Atlantic Ocean. The Naval Research Laboratory animation below shows ice speed and drift, illustrating how strong winds are pushing huge amounts of sea ice out of the Arctic Ocean along the edge of Greenland into the Atlantic Ocean.


The Naval Research Laboratory animation below illustrates that the thicker sea ice has hardly grown recently, while large amounts of thick sea ice also get pushed out of the Arctic Ocean along the edge of Greenland into the Atlantic Ocean.


[ click on image to enlarge ]
The image on the right shows that, on December 11, 2015, sea surface temperature anomalies off the east coast of North America were as high as 18.1°F or 10.0°C compared to the daily average during years 1981-2011.

At the same time, the lid over the North Atlantic is expanding, due to heavy melting of glaciers and due to the large amounts of sea ice that are getting pushed out of the Arctic Ocean by strong winds. Expansion of the freshwater lid over the North Atlantic is cooling the sea surface of North Atlantic and is making the atmosphere over the North Atlantic cooler than it would be without this lid, as it makes that less heat gets transferred from ocean to atmosphere, as discussed in earlier posts such as this one.

The result is a widening difference in atmospheric temperature between the area off the east coast of North America and the North Atlantic. This widening difference causes stronger winds to flow to the North Atlantic, in turn causing more sea ice to be moved out the the Arctic Ocean and further speeding up this feedback (#28 at the feedbacks page).


The end result is that, due to this loss of sea ice occurring now, the sea ice will be in a very bad shape when the melting season starts again next year. Furthermore, this expanding lid on the North Atlantic will prevent heat transfer from ocean to atmosphere, resulting in warmer water arriving in the Arctic Ocean below the sea surface.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.



Waves as high as 12.36 m or 40.5 ft near Greenland on December 8, 2015. From the post 'Strong winds and High Waves hit...
Posted by Sam Carana on Tuesday, December 8, 2015

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