Melting sea ice creates fresh water pool in ocean

| 05/04/2011

(ABC News): Scientists are monitoring a massive pool of fresh water in the Arctic Ocean that could spill into the Atlantic and potentially alter the ocean currents that bring Western Europe its moderate climate. The oceanographers said Tuesday the unusual accumulation has been caused by Siberian and Canadian rivers dumping more water into the Arctic, and from melting sea ice. Both are consequences of global warming. If it flushes into the Atlantic, the infusion of fresh water could, in the worst case, change the ocean current that brings warmth from the tropics to European shores, said Laura De Steur, of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.

German researcher Benjamin Rabe, of the Alfred Wegener Institute, said the Arctic’s fresh water content had increased 20 percent since the 1990s, or by a 8,400 cubic kilometers. That is the equivalent of all the water contained in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron in the U.S. or double the volume of water in Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.

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