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UK scientists have detected a huge dome of fresh water that is developing in the western Arctic Ocean.
The bulge is some 8,000 cubic km in size and has risen by about 15cm since 2002.
The team thinks it may be the result of strong winds whipping up a great clockwise current in the northern polar region called the Beaufort Gyre.
This would force the water together, raising sea surface height, the group tells the journal Nature Geoscience.
"In the western Arctic, the Beaufort Gyre is driven by a permanent anti-cyclonic wind circulation. It drives the water, forcing it to pile up in the centre of gyre, and this domes the sea surface," explained lead author Dr Katharine Giles from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at University College London.
"What we seen occurring is precisely what the climate models had predicted," said Dr Giles.
"When you have clockwise rotation - the fresh water is stored. If the wind goes the other way - and that has happened in the past - then the fresh water can be pushed to the margins of the Arctic Ocean.
"If the spin-up starts to spin down, the fresh water could be released. It could go to the rest of the Arctic Ocean or even leave the Arctic Ocean."
If the fresh water were to enter the North Atlantic in large volumes, the concern would be that it might disturb the currents that have such a great influence on European weather patterns. These currents draw warm waters up from the tropics, maintaining milder temperatures in winter than would ordinarily be expected at northern European latitudes.
Originally posted by NoNameBrand
Am I the only one that clicked the "Play Animation" button in the picture in the second post. LOL I actually clicked it a few times before i realized it was just a screen capture.