Home

Antarctic Sea Ice Starts Shrinking After Decades Of Increase

By Danielle Dorsey

Share

New research based on 40 years worth of satellite data has found that Antarctic sea ice is decreasing at a rate faster than that in the Arctic

Claire Parkinson is a senior scientist at NASA and author of the new study that was published in the PNAS scientific journal on Monday. In an interview with CNN, she underlined the impact of sea ice on the Earth’s climate, saying, “Sea ice also affects the polar ecosystem, including penguins and whales and seals, petrels and albatrosses, krill, and a whole range of additional animals and marine plant life.”

Sea ice is responsible for reflecting 50 to 70 percent of sunlight back into space. When sea ice melts into dark ocean water it absorbs 90 percent of sunlight, which contributes to rising temperatures around the world. 

Antarctic sea ice has long stumped scientists and while sea ice in the northern Arctic ocean has been melting over the past few decades, sea ice surrounding Antarctica had been steadily increasing. This anomaly was frequently pointed out by climate change deniers as a counter-argument, but recently published research shows that’s no longer the case.

The satellite data gathered in the study shows that the yearly average sea ice in Antarctica continued increasing until 2014 when it reached a record high. After that, Parkinson said that it began abruptly decreasing and reached a record low in 2017. She says it’s too early to tell what caused the reversal of this trend.

Dr. Kaitlin Naughten, a sea ice modeler at the British Antarctic Survey, said that the westerly winds that surround Antarctica were responsible for protecting the continent from atmospheric warming.

She told CNN, “This means that Antarctic sea ice doesn’t respond directly to global warming averaged over the whole planet, but rather to changes in these winds. Climate change is affecting the winds, but so is the ozone hole and short-term cycles like El Nino. The sea ice also responds to the level of ocean mixing, which is affected by meltwater from the Antarctic Ice Sheet.”

The decrease of Antarctic sea ice is a new worry for scientists. The growth of Antarctic sea ice served to offset some of the rapid ice loss in the Arctic, but now that ice is melting in both hemispheres, scientists are concerned about how the planet’s temperatures will be impacted. 

Share
Travel Noire

Danielle Dorsey

Want more?

Get exclusive, unpublished tips from Travel Noire's CEO to help you get off the beaten path, into the hearts of locals and onto a better, more cultured life.

8 Of The World’s Most Popular Beaches Could Disappear Due To Climate Crisis

8 Of The World’s Most Popular Beaches Could Disappear Due To Climate Crisis

Beaches are some of the most popular destinations and with so much do on nature’s beauty, it’s easy to see why millions flock each year. However, some of those beaches that people enjoy every year may not be here much longer due to climate change. Here are how some of the world’s most famous beaches […]

Parker Diakite

The Whole World Is Experiencing Record-Breaking Temperatures Right Now

The Whole World Is Experiencing Record-Breaking Temperatures Right Now

Megan Thee Stallion wasn’t joking when she said it was going to be a hot girl summer. Hot air from Africa is being pushed up north, resulting in heat waves that are expected to occur every couple of weeks for the rest of the summer. These unusually high temperatures are giving us a glimpse of […]

Danielle Dorsey

Climate Report Confirms That Europe Just Experienced Their Hottest June on Record

Climate Report Confirms That Europe Just Experienced Their Hottest June on Record

We’re only a few weeks into summer, but a Tuesday report from the Copernicus Climate Change Service confirmed that Europe has experienced their hottest June on record, with temperatures 2 degrees (Celsius) above normal.  The heatwave, caused by mass of hot air coming from the Sahara Desert, appears to be waning after five days of […]

Danielle Dorsey