tributed to the increasingly positive NAO events whose southerly winds near Europe tend to drive warm, saline Atlantic water into the Arctic (and, by inference, low salinity water back to the Atlantic) (Dickson et al., 2000). Those events provide models for the more intense salinity anomalies of the paleo-record, and perhaps of the near future. Changes in Arctic river runoff and its mixing into the Arctic Ocean may prove to be important (Dickson, 1999; Macdonald et al., 1999; Guay et al., 2001; Ekwurzel et al., 2001).

Arctic Change in the 1990s

The strong interaction between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans was discussed above. During the recent period of widely varying climate in the subpolar Atlantic, the Arctic has also experienced great change. Exchange between Arctic and Atlantic is a new focus within the larger climate system. The increasing incidence of the positive phase of the AO/NAO appears to have driven warmer, more-saline Atlantic water into the Arctic and pushed back the boundary with fresher, colder waters of Pacific origin (Carmack et al., 1995, Morison et al., 1998). Warming of the polar Atlantic layer has been so striking as to be invoked in possible future melting of the sea ice cover. Attendant thinning of the sea-ice, by about 40 percent, has occurred in the central Arctic, based on comparison of data from 1993 to 1997 with those from 1958 to 1976 (Rothrock et al., 1999), but once again dynamics and greenhouse warming might be interacting or obscuring one another. Arctic ice-cover history is complex, yet full of strong climate signals (e.g., McLaren et al., 1990; Chapman and Walsh, 1993; Yueh and Kwok, 1998; Kwok et al., 1999). The relationship with AO/NAO wind forcing and temperature variability is potentially strong (Rigor et al., submitted). With positive polarity of the AO/NAO, weakening occurs of the typically high atmospheric pressure over the Beaufort Sea, together with intrusion of cyclonic flow related to the Icelandic low pressure center farther north into the Arctic. Moisture transport into the Arctic by this circulation has increased with the AO/NAO index (Dickson et al., 2000).

Antarctic and Southern Ocean Climate Change

Attention has focused on changes in the Arctic, but concern remains that this amounts to looking under the street light, missing other high-latitude sites that are less well observed. Southern Ocean overturning has two

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement