Changes in the amount of freshwater flowing into the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans

Plain language summary

The freshwater budget of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans has been changing over the last few decades in part due to increased melting of glaciers and the Greenland Ice Sheet in the region. This increasing source of freshwater can influence ocean circulation, biological productivity in coastal waters and the climate of the region. In this study we document the changes in the land ice contribution to the Arctic and North Atlantic over the time period 1958-2016. This study shows that from the mid-1990s there was a steady increase in the freshwater flux from land ice that peaked around 2010 but that has remained well above the long-term mean since then. The study also shows that much of the additional freshwater is going into Baffin Bay where it has likely been accumulating for the last two decades. The authors discuss some of the potential impacts of this increased freshwater flux based on both ocean modeling and observational studies.

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Full paper (open access): Bamber, J.L., Tedstone, A.J., King, M. D., Howat, I. M., Enderlin, E. M., van den Broeke, M. R. and Noel, B. (2018), Land Ice Freshwater Budget of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans. Part I: Data, Methods and Results. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans (DOI:10.1002/2017 JC013605).