Climate frontline: Barents Sea around Svalbard, Franz Josef Land warming 7 times faster than globe, says study

What is the News?

According to a study, the region around the northern Barents Sea in the Arctic region has been warming two to two-and-a-half times the average warming of the Arctic region and five to seven times the warming in the rest of the world.

Such intense warming has never been observed in the Arctic region before. This is leading to the phenomenon of Atlantification.

Where is the Barents Sea?
Barents Sea
Source: WorldAtlas

The Barents Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean located off the northern coasts of Norway and Russia. It is divided between Norwegian and Russian territorial waters.

The Barents Sea is bounded by the Svalbard archipelago in the northwest, Franz Josef Land islands in the northeast, the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the east, the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea in the west, and by the Kola Peninsula in the south.

What is Atlantification?

Streams of warmer water from the Atlantic Ocean flow into the Arctic at the Barents Sea. This warmer, saltier Atlantic water is usually fairly deep under the more buoyant Arctic water at the surface.

Lately, however, the Atlantic water has been creeping up. That heat in the Atlantic water is helping to keep ice from forming and melting existing sea ice from below. This process is called “Atlantification”.

Hence, the ice in the Arctic is now getting hit both from the top by a warming atmosphere and at the bottom by a warming ocean.

Reasons: The reason for all of this is global climate change. The Arctic sea ice extent and thickness have been dropping for decades as global temperatures rise.

As the Arctic loses ice and the ocean absorbs more solar radiation, global warming is amplified.

That affects ocean circulation, weather patterns and Arctic ecosystems spanning the food chain, from phytoplankton all the way to top predators.

What is the impact of warming Arctic ice?

The rapid warming of the Arctic region has already thrown up weird weather such as the first recorded rainfall at the Summit Station of Greenland in August 2021 and back-to-back storms in July.

Lightning strikes which were once rare in the region, have also increased by eight times in the last decade. 

Apart from the local consequences, the warming of the Barents Sea also led to an extreme snowfall event, often dubbed as the ‘Beast from the East’, across most of Europe in 2018.

In India, Arctic warming has been linked to the sweltering heat waves across most of the northwest, central and some parts of eastern India in 2022.

Source: The post is based on the article “Climate frontline: Barents Sea around Svalbard, Franz Josef Land warming 7 times faster than globe, says study” published in Down To Earth on 16th June 2022.

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