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the mystery of the 2023 whale type

The mystery of the

By ThanhlongPublished 2 months ago 4 min read

- Recently, scientists have been finding some strange things off the southeast coast of Greenland. Whales that don't normally live there are congregating in pretty significant numbers and out-of-place fish are turning up in nets. It's so significant that when they noticed what was going on, scientists became interested and a little worried. - These whales, they didn't belong here. They belong somewhere else. Suddenly, we have them there on the coast and that's not been observed before. Well, something has changed here. - Normally, a healthy pod of humpback or fin whales is a great thing, but in such a sensitive area, Mads and his team began to wonder if this is a permanent change and if it might mean something more significant for the region. - For the last 150 years where we have records from locals show that they've never seen humpbacks or never seen fin whales in the coast. But today, you can see them regularly. - In this episode, we're going to find out what brought them to Southeast Greenland. It turns out that these new migrants are evidence of a much larger shift in the Arctic that starts thousands of miles away and has major implications for weather throughout the United States and the entire Northern Hemisphere. Stay tuned as we unravel this mystery. (ominous tones) First, let's review some basics about the Arctic. While Antarctica is a huge land mass covered in ice and surrounded by ocean, the Arctic is a large body of water covered in sea ice and surrounded by land. No shade if you confuse North and South Poles. It's a long way away. And until recently, it was hard to study many places in the ocean up there because floating sea ice made getting there difficult. - In the past like 40 years ago when I was a little bit more risk tolerant, I happily drove around in inflatables in fjord systems in East Greenland and just stayed away from this drifting pack ice, which was very dangerous. - You don't wanna get crushed between huge ice chunks, but with rising temperatures, sadly, there's much less of it and scientists are now able to study the area more easily. They're finding rapid changes that are likely permanent. - I can also see the changes that you can read about in the scientific papers or in the news that the Arctic is changing. I can also see them myself and feel that something is going on here that is new. - The Arctic Ocean is capped by seasonally changing sea ice, which serves as an important regulator for the Earth's climate. The ice reflects solar radiation in the summer, helping to keep our planet cool and livable. But when the ice melts and exposes dark water, the sun's energy is absorbed much faster. A recent paper found that the Arctic is warming four times faster than the global average. And since 1979, sea ice extent has been decreasing by about the size of South Carolina each year. So the whole system is delicate and not all ice is the same. While glaciers form on land and icebergs are chunks of glaciers that cab off and float in the water, sea ice forms strictly in the ocean and really specific conditions are needed for ice to form. Usually cold water is denser and falls to the bottom, but in the Arctic, there's a strong halocline where saltier, denser water is at the bottom and freshwater is at the top. - So it has this kind of freshwater cap. And it turns out that you can't grow sea ice over oceans that don't have a halocline. - That's because that freshwater cap prevents the dense salt water which is warm from coming to the surface, and that dense warm salt water prevents the cold freshwater from sinking. So the fact that these layers don't mix and disrupt this halocline is super important to the global climate. And there used to be more sea ice. Old maps made by whalers show sea ice extent in August of 1938. It pushes south down the coast of Greenland, creating an ideal environment for whale species like narwhal and other Arctic marine life. Sea ice also keeps temperate species from moving north and competing with rare Arctic species. - And that has been present there for the past 200 years, but what we have seen recently is that the ice has disappeared. And it's only in the wintertime, there's some ice that's passing in the area, but there's very little ice that's reaching the southern tip of Greenland. - With almost no ice cover, sunlight penetrates the surface allowing plankton to grow which attracts feeder fish like capelin and crustaceans like krill, mackerel follow to feast on the smaller ocean life and attract tuna who eat the mackerel. Finally, whales and even dolphins come to take advantage of the new areas with abundant food. - Our estimate is about 6,000 fin whales in this East Greenland coastal area where they never used to be seen before. There's about 3,000 humpbacks. And then we have the the dolphins and also some pilot whales and killer whales that are also new species to this area. - While new species of whales and fish might seem like an exciting opportunity, e


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