Discovery: Wind-blown Antarctic sea ice helps drive ocean circulation

Watts Up With That?

Study first to quantify influence of Antarctic sea ice

Ocean waters circulate globally, rising in some regions and sinking in others.CREDIT L.D. Talley et al,, Oceanography, 2013 Ocean waters circulate globally, rising in some regions and sinking in others.CREDIT L.D. Talley et al,, Oceanography, 2013

Antarctic sea ice is constantly on the move as powerful winds blow it away from the coast and out toward the open ocean. A new study shows how that ice migration may be more important for the global ocean circulation than anyone realized.

A team of scientists used a computer model to synthesize millions of ocean and ice observations collected over six years near Antarctica, and estimated, for the first time, the influence of sea ice, glacier ice, precipitation and heating on ocean overturning circulation. Overturning circulation brings deep water and nutrients up to the surface, carries surface water down, and distributes heat and helps store carbon dioxide as it flows through the world’s oceans, making it an important force in the global…

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