Freshwater Bulge in the Arctic Beaufort Gyre
Monday, January 23, 2012 8:05:40 PM
The findings were published on 22 January 2012 in the online version of the scientific journal, Nature Geoscience. The dome could be a result of strong Arctic winds accelerating in the Beaufort Gyre, causing the sea surface to bulge. The freshwater itself is a result of melting ice and river runoff, and to some extent of course precipitation.
The Beaufort Gyre is an ocean and ice circulation pattern in the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska. I have marked it with a B on the map above. This gyre moves in a clockwise direction (looking from above the North Pole). This circulation results from an average high-pressure system that spawns winds over the region. Ice that forms in or drifts into the Beaufort Gyre has historically remained in the Arctic ice system for years, accumulating snow and thickening each winter. Beginning in the late 1990s, the ice began melting away while in the southern parts of the gyre, before completing the circulation, counting for some of the increase in freshwater.
A halocline is a vertical zone in the water column in which salinity changes rapidly with depth.