Ocean Science

Runoff in the Arctic

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Science  01 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6119, pp. 491
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6119.491-c
CREDIT: ADAPTED FROM C. G. FICHOT ET AL., SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 3, 1053 (11 JANUARY 2013) © NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP

The Arctic is a bellwether region for climate change, with temperatures there increasing at approximately twice the g lobal average rate. That rapid temperature rise has caused widespread melting of sea ice, land ice, and permafrost which, along with greater amounts of precipitation, have increased the flux of fresh water into northern high-latitude seas. This enhanced freshwater input has many important effects on the Arctic Ocean—namely, on surface salinity, temperature structure, biological productivity, and carbon sequestration. To determine the distribution of continental runoff in the Arctic Ocean over the past decade, Fichot et al. developed an optical proxy for terrigenous dissolved organic matter, which they implemented using remote sensing of ocean color from space. By measuring the amounts of dissolved organic matter in the ocean's surface, they illustrate how runoff has changed over the past decade across the entire pan-Arctic region. This approach should be an important tool for monitoring the effects of climate change on this high-latitude region.

Sci. Rep. 3, 1053 (2013).

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