Francesco Muschitiello is an author of the study and an assistant professor of geography at Cambridge. He said that the findings were troubling because of the early warming suggesting there may be a flaw with the models scientists use for predicting how climate will change.
Muschitiello said that the Arctic Ocean had been warming up longer than we thought. “And this is something that’s quite unsettling for many reasons. Especially because the climate models we use to project future climate change don’t really simulate these types of changes.
The Fram Straight is where the Atlantic meets the Arctic east off Greenland. The researchers used marine sediments to reconstruct 800 years’ worth of data. This gives a longer historical picture about how Atlantic water has flowed to the Arctic. Researchers described marine sediments as “natural archives” that provide data on past climate conditions.
Researchers discovered that temperature and salinity (the saltiness of ocean water) remained relatively constant up to the 20th century, when they suddenly increased.
CNN’s Rong Zhang, a senior scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, said that the reconstructions suggested a significant increase in the Atlantic Ocean heat, and salt transport into Scandinavia at the beginning of 20th century. Rong Zhang was not involved in the study. It is important to understand the causes of rapid Atlantification and the discrepancies between reconstructions and model simulations.
Muschitiello stated it was not clear what role, if any human-caused, climate change played in the Arctic’s early warming. Further research is required.
He said, “We’re talking approximately the early 1900s, but by then we’ve already been overcharging the atmosphere in carbon dioxide.” “It is possible the Arctic Ocean may be more sensitive to greenhouse gasses than previously thought. This will require additional research because we don’t have a good grasp on the mechanisms behind early Atlantification.
The Arctic’s rapidly warming temperatures have caused sea-ice to melt. This in turn leads to more warming. While bright white seaice reflects the sun’s energy and dark ocean absorbs it as heat,
James E. Overland (NOAA Arctic scientist) said that such long-term changes and the recent loss of Arctic sea ice threaten marine ecosystems.
“Loss sea ice, ocean currents has shifted buffer region between Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Ocean to something closer towards an arm of central Atlantic,” Overland said to CNN. He was not involved in the study. “Important fisheries are at risk from ecosystem reorganization due to Atlantification.”
Muschitiello stated, “When I speak to my students, I always try to make sure they know that the Arctic is heating very quickly and much faster than any other region on the planet.” “It’s very troubling and alarming, especially since we don’t fully understand the feedbacks.”
He stated that “We are still slowly getting to understand how the entire system works.” “And I fear that by the time we solve the problem, it will be too late.”