Arctic Ocean Circulation

The Arctic Ocean is unique among the world’s oceans for many reasons. It is largely ice-covered (much of it year-round, the rest seasonally) and it is relatively isolated from the rest of the world’s oceans, much like the Mediterranean Sea. Follow the water as it enters and exits the Arctic Ocean.

This complex circulation system in the Arctic—which impacts the entire food web—is in a delicate balance. In recent years, scientists have documented changes in the Arctic system, including a dramtatic reduction in sea ice cover and a weakening of the Beaufort Gyre circulation system, that are attributed to climate change. The Arctic Ocean affects the way of life of not only the Arctic native peoples, but also those of us living “downstream,” in Europe and North America. As such, the Arctic Ocean, and the effect of changes that are taking place there, are the focus of intense study by oceanographers of all disciplines.