Fresh Water in Arctic Ocean Could Impact Iceland Skip to content

Fresh Water in Arctic Ocean Could Impact Iceland

The fresh water level in the Arctic Ocean has increased by 20 percent in the last two decades, as confirmed by scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany and in an article in the journal Deep-Sea Research.


Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

If seawater containing a high content of fresh water is carried southwards to the North Atlantic Ocean it could impact the course of the Gulf Stream which carries warm water to Iceland. That could cause significant cooling in Iceland and other northern regions, Fréttabladid reports.

“So far scientists believe that this is tied to circular currents in the Arctic Ocean and that it isn’t about to drift anywhere else,” said oceanographer Hédinn Valdimarsson.

He added the high fresh water level in the Arctic Ocean should hardly come as a surprise because in the past years the icecap there has decreased significantly due to melt caused by a warming climate.

Fresh water is lighter than salty water and flows closer to the surface than salt-rich currents from the south.

Lately, scientists have been concerned that increased fresh water levels in the Arctic Ocean, especially if the Greenland icecap continues to melt, might cause the Gulf Stream to stop carrying warm water northwards.

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