Puzzle of Antarctic ice solved?
Atlanta (UPI) Aug 17, 2010
Arctic sea ice is shrinking due to climate change but the extent of Antarctic sea ice has grown slightly and U.S. researchers say they may have figured out why.
Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have presented a possible solution to the conundrum at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, ScienceDaily.com reported Tuesday.
As the atmosphere warms, the researchers say, the water cycle of moisture from land and ocean into the atmosphere accelerates, causing more precipitation in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica.
The increased precipitation, mostly in the form of snow, stabilizes the upper ocean and insulates it from the ocean heat below, Jiping Liu, a research scientist in Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, says.
The insulating effect reduces the amount of melting occurring below the sea ice, he says, and the snow has a tendency to reflect atmospheric heat away from the sea ice, which reduces melting from above.
Climate models predict greenhouse gases will continue to increase in the 21st century, reaching a tipping point that will result in sea ice melting at a faster rate from both above and below, another researcher says.
The finding "raises some interesting possibilities about what we might see in the future," Judith A. Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences says.
"We may see, on a time scale of decades, a switch in the Antarctic, where the sea ice extent begins to decrease."
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Beyond the Ice Age
Cambridge, UK (SPX) Jun 23, 2010
New results from an investigation into Antarctica's potential contribution to sea level rise are reported this week (Sunday 20 June) by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) and the National Oceanography Centre in the journal Nature Geoscience. Thinning ice in West Antarctica is currently contributing nearly 10 per cent of global sea le ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|