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Antarctic Sea Ice Expanding!

 

During Southern Hemisphere winters, sea ice in the Antarctic, the floating chunks of frozen ocean water, is actually increasing. In late September, satellite data indicated that Antarctica was surrounded by the greatest area of sea ice ever recorded in the region: 7.51 million square miles (19.44 million square kilometers), the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center announced Thursday, October 11, 2012. Even so, it’s a slow rate of growth—about one percent over last year—not nearly enough to offset melting in the Arctic.

The world is not warming up uniformly. The reason for that is because the Antarctic is cooler than the rest of the world. It’s warming up as well but not as fast as other places. So the difference between temperature of Antarctica and the rest of the world is increasing. That makes the winds around Antarctica move a little bit faster. There’s also a difference that comes from the depletion of ozone in the stratosphere in the Antarctic, which makes the stratosphere colder. This explains the growth of ice cover acknowledging that the effect is very small. However, Growing sea ice has no effect whatsoever on sea level, because sea ice is already floating on the ocean. It does not displace sea level.

While Arctic sea ice is decreasing, the Antarctic is now slightly increasing. The reason behind so much variation between Arctic and Antarctic ice is that there is a continent on the South Pole. On the North Pole there is nothing but ocean. So, in the Arctic there is full-fledged warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, plus increased ice transport out of the region, which removes cold air and water. All of these effects contribute to reduce the sea ice cover in the Arctic. Antarctic big continent isolated from the rest of the world having its own climate system. It has ocean all around it. It has wind regimes that blow clockwise around it and isolate it. It acts differently from the Arctic, which is completely connected to the rest of the North Hemisphere. The Antarctic has not been warming up as fast as the models thought. It’s warming up, but slower. So it’s all consistent with a warming planet.

 

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