Oceanographers measure dramatic changes around Antarctica
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A vast pool of very cold water at the bottom of the Southern Ocean is shrinking at a surprisingly fast rate, according to oceanographers with NOAA and the University of Washington, who studied records going back several decades to track the changes.
By analyzing thousands of measurements, the researchers determined that the so-called Antarctic Bottom Water is disappearing at an average rate of about eight million metric tons per second over the past few decades, equal to about fifty times the average flow of the Mississippi River or about a quarter of the flow of the Gulf Stream in the Florida Straits.
The bottom water forms in a few specific locations around Antarctica, where seawater is cooled by the atmosphere and made saltier by ice formation. The dense water then sinks to the sea floor and spreads northward. (more…)