Greenland Sea warming faster than world ocean

Deep water temperature rises 0.3 degrees Celsius in 30 years

An iceberg floats in the Greenland Sea.

Jerzy Strzelecki/Wikimedia Commons

Warming rates of water deep within the Greenland Sea are about 10 times higher than average warming rates calculated for the global ocean, a new study suggests.

Analysis of temperature data from 1950 to 2010 of the Greenland Sea, an ocean area just to the south of the Arctic Ocean, shows that the water from depths of 2,000 meters to the sea floor has risen by 0.3 degrees Celsius over the last 30 years.

While the difference doesn’t seem that large, it’s the equivalent of a rise of 4 degrees Celsius in the atmospheric temperature over Europe, the researchers report. The findings were published in Geophysical Research Letters.

The results have implications for understanding the deep ocean’s role in the climate system and the water’s response to climate change, an issue that is especially timely as the latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are released.

photo of Ashley Yeager

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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