July 9, 2008

Climate Change Amplified in the Arctic

U.S. scientists predict human-induced climate change will be greatly amplified in the Arctic, both on the surrounding continents and in the ocean.

Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution say changes in nutrient supply and the diminishing extent of sea ice have the potential to alter primary production, ecological structure and carbon cycling in the Arctic Ocean.

The scientists -- Jeomshik Hwang, Timothy Eglinton, Richard Krishfield, Steven Manganini and Susumu Honjo --analyzed organic matter on particles from the waters within the Arctic Ocean above the Canada Abyssal Plain. They found strikingly old radiocarbon ages averaging about 1,900 years for the organic carbon.

The finding, the scientists said, along with a spike in abundances of sediment from continental sources rather than deep-sea sources, suggest the majority of the particulate organic carbon entering the deep Canadian Basin is supplied from surrounding continental margins.

The study is reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.