According to a study published in Science Advances, there is warm water trapped under the surface of the Arctic seas that could significantly melt sea ice in the Arctic.
The researchers used old data from ships and new data from probes installed in the Arctic waters to calculate the “heat content.”
The warm water beneath the Arctic Ocean is accumulating rapidly around 50 meters below the surface.
As the sea ice started to melt, the water was exposed to the sun, and heated up.
The Arctic winds then sent the warmer waters to the north, which is where they are trapped beneath the ice pack at present.
Warm water is typically lighter than cold water, causing it to float.
According to the CBC, the warm water doesn’t float in the Arctic because its saltiness makes it sink.
Instead, the colder, fresh water sits near the sea ice.
However, the researchers warn the trapped hot water has the potential to “come to the surface” and “impact the ice.”
The researchers explain this could happen if the waters become so warm, they stop sinking and begin mixing with the cold, fresh water near the sea ice.
The Arctic is already warning at twice the rate of the global average, this would only exacerbate the dire situation in the polar region.