March 6, 2014 4:48 PM

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As part of the study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers used satellite data to measure the surface temperature of water from a Canadian river flowing into the icy Beaufort Sea during the summer of 2012. The researchers observed that a sudden influx of warm river water into the sea rapidly warmed the surface layers of the ocean, increasing the melting of sea ice.

“River discharge is a key factor contributing to the high sensitivity of Arctic sea ice to climate change,” Son Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. “We found that rivers are effective conveyers of heat across immense watersheds in the Northern Hemisph...

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