Ocean Interactions

How will the polar oceans continue to influence – and be influenced by – climate change? The Arctic Ocean exerts a dramatic influence on global climate through the reflectivity of sea ice and the release of freshwater into wider circulation, while the Southern Ocean is very effective at absorbing carbon dioxide and heat from the atmosphere. Climate change will alter the biogeochemistry of the polar oceans with impacts on a range of ecosystems. (JGR: Biogeosciences)

How is the Arctic region changing and what will be the impact on global climate in the coming decades? Warming, freshening and circulation of water in the Arctic Ocean is affecting sea ice, the atmosphere and land. We need a better understanding of the ocean’s role and interrelationships in the wider Arctic system. (JGR: Oceans)

How much ice will Greenland lose as the climate continues to warm? Processes in both the atmosphere and ocean are causing increased melt on the ice sheet surface, as well acceleration, thinning and retreat of fast-moving outlet glaciers that terminate in the sea. We particularly need a better understanding of the apparently diverse responses of such outlet glaciers to environmental change, the answer to which probably lies in poorly-known processes occurring at their beds and near their submarine termini. (JGR: Earth Surface)

Can we rethink our approach to studying the biogeochemical impacts of ocean warming? The effects of rising temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide in the world’s oceans are generally studied separately but their combined effects are dramatic. It is time for scientists studying ocean chemistry, ocean biology and ocean physics to work together and develop a more holistic understanding of our warming oceans. (Reviews of Geophysics)

How fast are the methane hydrates in deepwater marine sediments, and permafrost areas, and beneath ice sheets breaking down now and will these rates likely change in the coming centuries to millennia? Does the formation of new gas hydrate offset dissociation and sequester substantial methane? Observations, laboratory research, and numerical modeling address these questions, which have implications for Earth’s climate system and carbon cycle, ocean chemistry, and the persistence of gas hydrate deposits targeted as a potential energy resource. (JGR: Solid Earth)