During the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic (SHEBA) deployment in October, 1997, multiyear ice near the center of the Beaufort Gyre was anomalously thin. The upper ocean was both warmer and less saline than in previous years. The salinity deficit in the upper 100 m, compared with the same region during the Arctic Ice Dynamics Joint Experiment (AIDJEX) in 1975, is equivalent to surface input of about 2.4 m of fresh water. Heat content has increased by 67 MJ m(-2). During AIDJEX the change in salinity over the melt season implied melt equivalent to about 0.8 m of fresh water. As much as 2 m of freshwater input may have occurred during the 1997 summer, possibly resulting from decreased ice concentration from changes in atmospheric circulation early in the summer, in the classic albedo-feedback scenario. Unchecked, the pattern could lead to a significantly different sea-ice regime in the central Arctic.
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