Warming Ocean Waters

Arctic sea ice is at a record low, and oceans are warming. What's in store?

Ice in the Arctic Ocean reached a record low this season.
The Atlantic Ocean is gradually warming, which led to challenges along the east coast this summer. Photo:NOAA (Wikimedia Commons)
Warming Ocean Waters
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Warming Ocean Waters

Ice in the Arctic Ocean is at a record-setting low this summer - covering less of the sea, and melting at a more rapid rate than ever. Although climate change skeptics rail about Al Gore’s stranded polar bears, the melting of Arctic ice is - scientifically - really real...

Over 30 years, the area it covers has dropped by about half. It’s also not as thick as it used to be, which means it melts more rapidly. 

Warming water is changing things not just in the Arctic, but everywhere. Research shows that the melt is affecting air circulation around the globe: because the melt is so fast, weather systems are progressing more slowly, leading to stagnant patterns, and possibly more severe storms, droughts, and coastal erosion, among other challenges. 

Today, we’ll talk about what the increase in water temperature means - from altered weather patterns to sea creature migration - affecting our economy and our coastlines. What will it mean for the northeast? We’ve had lobster collapse and a lobster glut, more seals and sharks, and a nuclear reactor shutdown on Long Island Sound, to name a few things.

Jennifer Francis joins us to talk about her research on the effects of the Arctic melt. We’ll also hear from Heather Goldstone, the science editor of the public radio station on Cape Cod, and Ryan Hanrahan, a meteorologist, here in the studio. And we'll check in with Monica Brady-Myerov about what Boston is doing to prepare for rising sea levels.

What effect do you think warmer ocean waters will have where we live?