Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Satellites show overall increases in antarctic sea ice cover

23.08.2002


Satellites show overall increases in antarctic sea ice coverWhile recent studies have shown that on the whole Arctic sea ice has decreased since the late 1970s, satellite records of sea ice around Antarctica reveal an overall increase in the southern hemisphere ice over the same period. Continued decreases or increases could have substantial impacts on polar climates, because sea ice spreads over a vast area, reflects solar radiation away from the Earth’s surface, and insulates the oceans from the atmosphere.



In a study just published in the Annals of Glaciology, Claire Parkinson of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center analyzed the length of the sea ice season throughout the Southern Ocean to obtain trends in sea ice coverage. Parkinson examined 21 years (1979-1999) of Antarctic sea ice satellite records and discovered that, on average, the area where southern sea ice seasons have lengthened by at least one day per year is roughly twice as large as the area where sea ice seasons have shortened by at least one day per year. One day per year equals three weeks over the 21-year period.

"You can see with this dataset that what is happening in the Antarctic is not what would be expected from a straightforward global warming scenario, but a much more complicated set of events," Parkinson said.


The length of the sea ice season in any particular region or area refers to the number of days per year when at least 15 percent of that area is covered by sea ice. Some areas close to the Antarctic continent have sea ice all year long, but a much larger region of the Southern Ocean has sea ice for a smaller portion of the year, and in those regions the length of the sea ice season can vary significantly from one year to another.

To calculate the lengths of the sea ice seasons, Parkinson used satellite data gridded to 25 by 25 kilometer grid cells for the Southern Ocean region. For each grid cell, the satellite data were used to determine the concentration, or percent area, of the sea ice cover. Whenever the percentage was at least 15 percent, the grid cell was considered to have ice. Using this method, Parkinson went through the entire data set and for each grid cell had a computer count how many days of each year had ice, then calculated trends over the 21-year record.

Overall, the area of the Antarctic with trends indicating a lengthening of the sea ice season by at least one day per year was 5.6 million square kilometers (2.16 million square miles), about 60 percent the size of the United States. At the same time, the area with sea ice seasons shortening by at least one day per year was 3 million square kilometers (1.16 million square miles).

Regionally, the Ross Sea, on average, had its sea ice seasons getting longer, while most of the Amundsen Sea and almost the entire Bellingshausen Sea had their sea ice seasons getting shorter.

"The Antarctic sea ice changes match up well with regional temperature changes," Parkinson said. "The one region in the Antarctic where the temperature records have shown prominent warming over this period is the Antarctic Peninsula, and indeed it’s immediately to the west and east of the Antarctic Peninsula, in the Bellingshausen/Amundsen and western Weddell seas, respectively, that the sea ice seasons have been shortening rather than lengthening."

The Arctic also shows a mixed pattern of sea ice trends over the 1979-1999 period, but in contrast to the Antarctic, the area with shortening seasons in the Arctic is far greater than the area with lengthening seasons. The Arctic patterns suggest some connections with major oscillations in large-scale atmospheric pressures, called the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation, and it is possible the ice covers of both hemispheres could be influenced by oscillations that are still not fully identified, Parkinson said.

The study used data from NASA’s Nimbus 7 Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Special Sensor Microwave Imagers (SSMIs) and in the future will be extended with data from the National Space Development Agency of Japan’s Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for the Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) recently launched on board NASA’s Aqua satellite.

Krishna Ramanujan | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht What makes corals sick?
11.12.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

nachricht Mars’ atmosphere well protected from the solar wind
08.12.2017 | Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

Blockchain is becoming more important in the energy market

05.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New research identifies how 3-D printed metals can be both strong and ductile

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

11.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

What makes corals sick?

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>