The Arctic Ocean—a Canadian perspective from IPY
Canada’s IPY program funded seven marine projects spanning the North American Arctic. Work embraced oceanography, air-sea interactions, storm response, paleo-climate and trace-element chemistry. Notable findings are emerging. Conditions in the Beaufort were unusual in 2007, with very high air pressure bringing strong winds, rapid ice drift, thin winter ice, enhanced shelf-break upwelling and a maximum in freshwater retention in the Beaufort Gyre. A mapping of trace chemicals suggests that Arctic mid-depth circulation may also have reversed. Study of Canadian Arctic through-flow revealed a net annual seawater export of 44,000 cubic kilometres from the Arctic to Baffin Bay. Observations of sea ice, sustained through the IPY, affirmed that ice cover is the key attribute of Arctic seas, with wind as a potent agent in its variation. Surveys have shown that the anthropogenic decline in seawater alkalinity is aggravated in the Arctic by low temperature and low salinity resulting from ice melt. Careful experiments have revealed that Arctic phytoplankton growth is constrained by scarcity of dissolved iron where light levels are low. A manganese fingerprint in sediments has tracked changing sea level during the Ice Age. Sediment-core analysis has revealed the Arctic Oscillation as a dominant cause of long-period climate variations during the Holocene. One project has demonstrated how multi-tasked vessels can maintain a watch on Canada’s Arctic within a reliable affordable logistic framework, while a wave forecast model developed by another for the Beaufort is suitable for operational use. Copyright © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada 2012
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Volume (Year): 115 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (November)
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