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"Current Event" -- The Discovery Files

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Waters from warmer latitudes, or subtropical waters, are reaching Greenland's glaciers, driving melting and likely triggering an acceleration of ice loss, reports a team of researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Testing the Waters. (SOUND EFFECT: ocean sounds)

I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files -- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

Fjord, even the word sounds cold -- f-f-f-fjord. You wouldn't expect to find warm subtropical waters in a fjord in Greenland, but according to a research team led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, that's exactly what's happening.

It seems that ocean currents in the North Atlantic have shifted, and warmer waters from the tropics are being circulated at the higher latitudes. (SOUND EFFECT: ocean waves icy wind) The Sermilik Fjord, East Greenland. Not really the ideal place to grab an umbrella drink and soak up some rays. The land mass surrounding it is covered by a two-mile thick ice sheet. It is here at the fjord that researchers used temperature, salinity and depth recorders to gauge the changes.

They found subtropical waters as warm as 39-degrees flowing through the fjord. (SOUND EFFECT: dripping) These warmer waters are driving melting and likely triggering an acceleration of ice loss.

(SOUND EFFECT: seals) The team also enlisted 19 hooded seals tagged with monitors and have determined that the warmer waters are present in the fjord year-round.

This is some of the first reliable evidence of the impact of the shift in ocean currents (as opposed to warmer air temperatures). The scientists note that these changes are rapid, and more observation is needed to help predict further ice loss and sea-level rise.

A current event from some scientists who are truly, going with the flow.

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