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The water of Arctic Ocean is covered with ice sheets most of the time but with the changing climatic conditions and retreating sea ice, the North seems to be changing.
In a latest development, the researchers have found fresh swells measuring more than 16 feet in the Arctic Ocean. The swell has been found in the Beaufort Sea of Arctic, which is just north of Alaska.
The researchers caution that such huge swells have the potential to disintegrate Arctic ice sheets even at faster pace than the melt going on underway there for decades due to rapid global warming.
With the rise in the melting of ice cover, open water is also increasing. According to the researchers, if the pace continues it is estimated that the water may extend across the complete Arctic Ocean before the mid of this century.
Researchers say the rising storms possess the potential to make Arctic swell. It means huge waves have the potential to add a new and unpredictable element in the Arctic region.
The wave measurements were recorded by two scientists W. Erick Rogers of the Naval Research Laboratory and Jim Thomson of the University of Washington. They used sensors which were installed beneath the ice surface and communicated through satellite.
“The observations reported here are the only known wave measurements in the central Beaufort Sea because until recently the region remained ice covered throughout the summer and there were no waves to measure,” both the researchers wrote in the article published in Geophysical Research Letters in 2014.
Thomson in an email said that the 16-feet swell was the average during the peak period. The average over the whole season in 2012 was 3 to 6 feet.
“The largest single wave was probably 9 meters, or about 29 feet,” he said.
The researchers stress swells have the potential to accelerate the ice retreat as they carry more energy. Researchers say the pace of ice breakup is likely to increase in the region.