Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sea Ice May Be on Increase in the Antarctic: A Phenomenon Due to a Lot of ’Hot Air’?

17.08.2005


Example of North Pole Sea Ice Decrease: This image shows that sea ice in the North Pole has been on the decline, with the most significant loss in the past three years. This occurrence runs counter to the paper’s new finding that sea ice in the Antarctic’s (or South Pole) Southern Ocean appears to be on the increase. Credit: NASA


A new NASA-funded study finds that predicted increases in precipitation due to warmer air temperatures from greenhouse gas emissions may actually increase sea ice volume in the Antarctic’s Southern Ocean. This adds new evidence of potential asymmetry between the two poles, and may be an indication that climate change processes may have different impact on different areas of the globe.

"Most people have heard of climate change and how rising air temperatures are melting glaciers and sea ice in the Arctic," said Dylan C. Powell, co-author of the paper and a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. "However, findings from our simulations suggest a counterintuitive phenomenon. Some of the melt in the Arctic may be offset by increases in sea ice volume in the Antarctic."

The researchers used satellite observations for the first time, specifically from the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager, to assess snow depth on sea ice, and included the satellite observations in their model. As a result, they improved prediction of precipitation rates. By incorporating satellite observations into this new method, the researchers achieved more stable and realistic precipitation data than the typically variable data found in the polar regions. The paper was published in the June issue of the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research.



"On any given day, sea ice cover in the oceans of the polar regions is about the size of the U.S.," said Thorsten Markus, co-author of the paper and a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "Far-flung locations like the Arctic and Antarctic actually impact our temperature and climate where we live and work on a daily basis."

According to Markus, the impact of the northernmost and southernmost parts on Earth on climate in other parts of the globe can be explained by thermal haline (or saline) circulation. Through this process, ocean circulation acts like a heat pump and determines our climate to a great extent. The deep and bottom water masses of the oceans make contact with the atmosphere only at high latitudes near or at the poles. In the polar regions, the water cools down and releases its salt upon freezing, a process that also makes the water heavier. The cooler, salty, water then sinks down and cycles back towards the equator. The water is then replaced by warmer water from low and moderate latitudes, and the process then begins again.

Typically, warming of the climate leads to increased melting rates of sea ice cover and increased precipitation rates. However, in the Southern Ocean, with increased precipitation rates and deeper snow, the additional load of snow becomes so heavy that it pushes the Antarctic sea ice below sea level. This results in even more and even thicker sea ice when the snow refreezes as more ice. Therefore, the paper indicates that some climate processes, like warmer air temperatures increasing the amount of sea ice, may go against what we would normally believe would occur.

"We used computer-generated simulations to get this research result. I hope that in the future we’ll be able to verify this result with real data through a long-term ice thickness measurement campaign," said Powell. "Our goal as scientists is to collect hard data to verify what the computer model is telling us. It will be critical to know for certain whether average sea ice thickness is indeed increasing in the Antarctic as our model indicates, and to determine what environmental factors are spurring this apparent phenomenon."

Achim Stossel of the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University, College Station, Tex., a third co-author on this paper, advises that "while numerical models have improved considerably over the last two decades, seemingly minor processes like the snow-to-ice conversion still need to be better incorporated in models as they can have a significant impact on the results and therefore on climate predictions."

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov/goddard

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas
19.07.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht NSF-supported researchers to present new results on hurricanes and other extreme events
19.07.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>