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Warming of the West Spitsbergen Current and sea ice north of Svalbard

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Author(s): Jan Piechura | Waldemar Walczowski

Journal: Oceanologia
ISSN 0078-3234

Volume: 51;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 147;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: Nordic Seas | Ocean circulation | Sea ice | Climate change

ABSTRACT
This research was supported by a grant from the Fifth European Union Frame-work Programme project ASOF-N, contract EVK2-CT-200200139, the Sixth Frame-work Programme DAMOCLES, contract 018509GOCE, and grants from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, decisions 61/N-IPY/2007/0 and 175/IPY/2007/01.AbstractAccording to the results of recent research, besides the atmospheric circulation, it is heat transport to the Arctic Ocean (AO) by ocean currents, the West Spitsbergen Current (WSC) in particular, that is playing a significant role in the process of Arctic warming. Data collected by the Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences (IO PAS), in the Norwegian and Greenland Seas, and Fram Strait during the last 20 years reveal considerable changes in the amount of heat transported by the WSC into the Arctic Ocean. An increase in Atlantic Water (AW) temperature and the intensification of heat transport were observed in 2004-06; after this period, both parameters decreased. The aim of this study was to find out whether the fluctuations in heat input by the WSC have influenced the sea-ice distribution around Svalbard. In fact they do, but oceanic heat transport should nonetheless be regarded as just one of many processes influencing sea-ice behaviour.
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