Antarctic Ice Warming Faster than thought
The West Antarctic Ice Sheet, whose melt currently contributes substantially to sea level rise each year, is warming twice as quickly as previously thought, a new study has found. The temperature record from Byrd Station, a scientific outpost in the centre of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet ( WAIS ), demonstrates a marked increase of 2.4C in average annual temperature since 1958 – three times faster than the average temperature rise around the globe.
This temperature increase is nearly double what previous research has suggested, and reveals – for the first time – warming trends during the summer months of the Southern Hemisphere, said David Bromwich, professor of geography at Ohio State University.
“Our record suggests that continued summer warming in West Antarctica could upset the surface mass balance of the ice sheet, so that the region could make an even bigger contribution to sea level rise,” said Bromwich.
“Even without generating significant mass loss directly, surface melting on the WAIS could contribute to sea level indirectly, by weakening the West Antarctic ice shelves that restrain the region’s natural ice flow into the ocean, he said.
Andrew Monaghan, study co – author, said that these findings place West Antarctica among the fastest – warming regions on Earth. “We’ve already seen enhanced surface melting contribute to the breakup of the Antarctic’s Larsen B Ice Shelf, where glaciers at the edge discharged massive sections of ice into the ocean,” he said. “The stakes would be much higher if a similar event occurred to an ice shelf restraining one of the WAIS glaciers,” he said.
Violent storms in the Arctic control world weather?
Violent polar storms help control the world’s weather, a new study has found. These mini-hurricanes occur in the Arctic winter, when freezing air flows out of the region and over the warmer Atlantic Ocean. As the Arctic warms in the coming decades, there are expected to be fewer of them. However, without the storms, the rest of the world could face weather disruption. They are vital to the global thermohaline circulation in the ocean, which underpins ocean currents and weather systems, experts said.
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