Climate Change Key Factor Of Record-Low Antarctic Sea Ice: Study

Understanding the causes of sea ice melting is complex because there are many variables (typical ones)

Climate change played a key role in last year’s record low levels of Antarctic sea ice, according to research published Monday, marking a sharp change from increases seen in previous decades. It has been found.

Scientists at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have discovered that human-induced global warming has pushed sea levels around the ice-covered continent to their lowest levels in 2,000 years.

According to BAS, compared to an average winter in the past few decades, the maximum extent of the Southern Ocean covered by ice has shrunk by 2 million square kilometers, an area four times the size of France.

“What climate models can tell us about how often such large and rapid losses are likely to occur,” Rachel Diamond, lead author of the study, told AFP. “That’s why we were so interested in studying it.”

After analyzing 18 different climate models, scientists found that climate change has quadrupled the likelihood of such large, rapid melting events occurring.

Scientists say understanding what causes sea ice melt is complicated by the many variables that can affect it, from ocean water to temperature to wind.

But ice formation has global effects, from ocean currents to sea level rise, so determining the role of climate change is important.

Sea ice, which is formed when salt water already in the ocean freezes, has no noticeable effect on sea levels.

But when highly reflective snow and ice turn into deep blue oceans, the same amount of the sun’s energy that is bounced back into space is instead absorbed by water, accelerating the pace of global warming.

unlikely to recover

Unlike the Arctic, where sea ice has been declining since satellite records began in the 1970s, Antarctica’s melting trend is a more recent phenomenon.

Antarctic sea ice increased “slightly but steadily” from 1978 to 2015, according to BAS.

However, a sharp decline occurred in 2017, followed by several years of low ice levels.

In a study published in Geophysical Research Letters, BAS researchers also performed predictions on whether the ice would return.

“Even after 20 years, it has not fully recovered to its original level,” Diamond told AFP. That means “average sea ice in Antarctica is likely to remain relatively low for decades to come,” he added.

Co-author Louise Sim said: “The impacts… will be profound, including on local and global climate and on the unique ecosystems of the Southern Ocean, including whales and penguins.”

Previous studies by BAS have shown that thousands of emperor penguin chicks have died due to abnormal melting.

Raised on ice sheets, they fell into the ocean and died before they developed waterproof feathers.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)