Antarctica Loses Large Ice-Free Region Due to Global Warming
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | March 6, 2014 2:54 PM EST
A large ice-free region the size of New Zealand has disappeared in Antarctica which scientists attribute was due to the burgeoning global warming conditions of the planet.
First noticed in satellite images during the polar winter season in 1974, researchers from Canada's McGill University believed a "freshwater lid" probably closed the ice-free region, or polynya.
Weddell seals lie atop ice at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica, in this picture taken January 1, 2010. At age 34, Rachael Robertson accepted the biggest challenge of her life: to lead a large, 12-month expedition in Antarctica. Two months on, she found herself having to ask the team of 120 how they managed to get through a year's supply of condoms in just eight weeks. Robertson, a former chief ranger for the national parks service in Australia's Victoria state, spoke to Reuters about her book "Leading on the Edge" and how she developed a unique style of leadership using a technique called "no triangles". To match story BOOKS-ANTARCTICA/LEADERSHIP Picture taken January 1, 2010. REUTERS/Pauline Askin
Scientists said the polynya stayed open for three full winters before it closed due to the effects of climate change on ocean salinity, researchers said in a study published in Nature Climate Change.
"Deep ocean waters only mix directly to the surface in a few small regions of the global ocean, so this has effectively shut one of the main conduits for deep ocean heat to escape," Casimir de Lavergne, study lead author, said in a statement.
The study analyzed tens of thousands of measurements made by ships and robotic floats in the ocean around Antarctica over a 60-year period.
The ocean's surface has been found to be steadily getting less salty since the 1950s, according to the study. This lid of fresh water on top of the ocean prevents mixing with the warm waters underneath, trapping the deep ocean heat.
"This agrees with the observations, and fits with a well-accepted principle that a warming planet will see dryer regions become dryer and wetter regions become wetter," Jaime Palter of the McGill University and the study's co-author, said. "True to form, the polar Southern Ocean - as a wet place - has indeed become wetter. And in response to the surface ocean freshening, the polynyas simulated by the models also disappeared."
The melting of glaciers on Antarctica has also been known to add more freshwater to the ocean, which scientists said could possibly be strengthening the freshwater lid.
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Prince William & Kate Middleton Caught Flirting In A Countryside Dinner Date [PHOTOS]
- Kate Middleton’s Mom Accused Of Being A Social Climber, Prince George Not Seen By Relatives
- Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt’s Top Secret Wedding Tramps Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Friends’ Reunion & Pregnancy Talks [PHOTOS]
- 2014 US Open: Hottest Male Tennis Players To Watch [PHOTOS]
Join the Conversation
- UFO Sighting in Australia: A Mysterious 'Flying' Object With Changing Colors Observed[Watch Video]
- Volcano Eruption In Iceland: Lava Erupts More Than 50 Meters High, Prompts Aviation Alert [Video]
- Artificial Micro-Humans to Replace Animals in Lab Tests: 90 Million Animal Lives Would be Saved
- Images Of Solar Flare Captured By NASA [Watch Video]
- Stargazing: Saturn, Moon and Mars Meet Up Last August 31
- Pricey iPhone 6 on Release Date Likely but with 3X Retina Resolution & Mobile Payment Service – Reports
- 5.5-Inch iPhone 6 is iPhone Air on Sept 19 Release Date: 5 Things to Consider Before Buying
- Nexus 6 Release Date Update: Moto X+1 Look Leaked, Nexus X or Shamu Moved to Demo Phase
- Google Nexus 8 Confirmed as HTC T1 aka Volantis/Flounder with Freshly-Leaked Specs & Features – Reports
- Europe, US Next on ISIS’ Hit List, Says Saudi King; Seized ISIS Laptop Reveals Terrifying Bio-Warfare Plans
- iPhone 6 On Release Date To Feature Qualcomm MDM9625M LTE, 1GB RAM, Mobile Payment Deal With AMEX, 1334x750 Display
- Leaker of Actresses Nude Photos Accepting PayPal Donations in Exchange For Posting Alleged Sex Video of Jennifer Lawrence, Has Naked Pictures of 100 Hollywood A-Listers