Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stretch of Barents Sea coastline in Lapland, Norway. Photo: DeAgostini/Getty Images

The Arctic Ocean's boundaries are getting fuzzier as Atlantic waters push further northward and sea ice thins and melts more with each passing year, a new study finds.

Why it matters: If this trend continues, it could have wide-ranging impacts on lucrative marine fisheries, and may already be altering the weather patterns affecting your daily life in ways researchers are only now discovering.

The big picture: The Arctic is warming at a faster rate than any other region on Earth, and scientists have been documenting sweeping changes to the native ecosystems in this vast region. The fastest warming area of the Arctic is a remote expanse of stormy waters located north of Europe and Asia: The Barents and Kara Seas.

The basics: The Atlantic Ocean is well-mixed, with salty waters throughout the water column. In contrast, Arctic waters are stratified, meaning they have clearly separated layers — on top there is freshwater, which can be cooled down in the fall to form sea ice, and then replenished in the spring and summer, when the sea ice melts.

The boundary between the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean is defined by this physical difference, said the study's lead author Sigrid Lind of the Institute of Marine Research in Norway.

What they did: Researchers extended a long-running set of observations meant to monitor the entire Barents Sea, which was taken using ship-based sensors aboard Norwegian and Russian research vessels. In total, the study relies on 76,000 temperature and salinity vertical profiles of the water column in the Barents Sea, all taken in the late summer and early fall. Of these, 18,000 profiles were from the central Barents Sea, and 7,000 were from the northern region. They also used surface observations from Norway and Russia, as well as sea ice data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado. The data used for the study spanned the period from 1970 through 2016.

What they found: The regional "hot spot" of warming in these two seas is related to an oceanic invasion — the Atlantic Ocean is pushing farther north and east as the Arctic Ocean retreats.

  • The observations pointed to a more well-mixed, hotter and less ice-covered region just in the five-year stretch between 2011-2016, as compared to previous years.
  • The study found a sharp increase in the mixing and heat transport within the water column, and a decline in the freshwater present in the northern Barents Sea since 2010.

Between the lines: With less sea ice forming in and being transported to these two areas, there is less freshwater transport as well. This trend is key, because it allows the well-mixed Atlantic waters to make inroads into the frontier region of the Arctic, in turn discouraging the formation of more sea ice, and feeding an ongoing cycle.

Lind said the swiftness of the changes are noteworthy.

"Changes in the different parameters pointed in the same direction, towards some fundamental change, a shift in the climate. It was stunning to see that."
— Sigrid Lind, lead author of the new study.

According to the study, rapid, fundamental shifts like what the study finds have previously only been observed in the record of historical climate. Now, it's playing out in real time, when monitoring networks are in place.

What's at stake: The Atlantic Ocean's inroads into parts of the Barents and potentially the Kara Sea as well, including areas in the Norwegian Arctic, means that fish species reliant on colder, less salty waters will likely move out of the region, disrupting the economy.

  • Also, there are studies that find the hotspot in this part of the Arctic is having an influence on the weather thousands of miles away.
  • Jennifer Francis, a researcher at Rutgers University, told Axios that the decline in sea ice and increase in air and ocean temperatures in this region is having clear downstream impacts. Francis was not involved in the new research.
  • The "hot spot" in the Barents and Kara Seas tends to favor the formation of a ridge, or northward bulge, in the jet stream over that area, Francis said. This, in turn, can intensify an area of high pressure over East Asia.
  • "The resulting amplified jet-stream wave then transfers wave energy upward into the stratosphere, which tends to disrupt the stratospheric polar vortex and prolongs the effects of ice loss and Atlantification well into late winter," Francis said.

What's next: As sea ice continues to decline, the Atlantic Ocean waters may push the polar front further north, effectively displacing the Arctic waters back toward the pole.


Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Government website for free COVID tests launches early

COVID-19 rapid at-home test kits. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The website where Americans can request free, at-home rapid COVID-19 tests from the government launched Tuesday and is now accepting orders.

Driving the news: The website went live in its beta phase and is operating at a limited capacity a day before its official launch. Every home in the U.S. is eligible for up to four COVID tests, according to the website.

AT&T, Verizon extend 5G delay over airline panic

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

AT&T and Verizon said Tuesday they would delay lighting up its 5G signals near a limited number of airports after renewed opposition from the aviation industry over concerns about signal interference.

Why it matters: The CEOs of leading airlines warned of catastrophic disruption to flights if AT&T and Verizon deployed 5G as planned this week.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Ukraine crisis: Blinken to visit Kyiv, then meet Russian foreign minister

Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, following a trip to Kyiv to reinforce U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of a possible Russian invasion, according to a senior U.S. official.

Why it matters: The meeting with Lavrov suggests a diplomatic resolution to the crisis may still be on the table, despite the collapse of security talks between Russia and the West last week.