An interesting new study published in Nature points out that an increase in the strength of the Arctic Oscillation between 2005 and 2008 caused winds in the region to grow more cyclonic and shift ocean currents in ways that drew more upper-surface freshwater from Russian rivers toward the Canada Basin and the Beaufort Sea. To see the shift in the animation above, look for the tightening of the wind patterns (shown in blue) over the Canada Basin that begins about 13 seconds into the video. Notice how the stream of less salty water from river runoff in Russia (shown in red) begins to loop westward toward Canada in sync with the circulation of the wind rather than continuing toward Greenland as it typically would. The purple arrows show the transpolar drift, a current that generally pushes water toward Greenland. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a press release with more details, and a number of news outlets have written stories about the study. In the image below, the altered path of the freshwater current is shown in red.
Text by Adam Voiland. Animation published originally by the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Still image published by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.