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Dilution of the Northern North Atlantic Ocean in Recent Decades

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Science  17 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5729, pp. 1772-1774
DOI: 10.1126/science.1109477

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Abstract

Declining salinities signify that large amounts of fresh water have been added to the northern North Atlantic Ocean since the mid-1960s. We estimate that the Nordic Seas and Subpolar Basins were diluted by an extra 19,000 ± 5000 cubic kilometers of freshwater input between 1965 and 1995. Fully half of that additional fresh water—about 10,000 cubic kilometers—infiltrated the system in the late 1960s at an approximate rate of 2000 cubic kilometers per year. Patterns of freshwater accumulation observed in the Nordic Seas suggest a century time scale to reach freshening thresholds critical to that portion of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation.

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