Several global heat and ocean temperature records have been broken as the sea-ice surrounding Antarctica reaches noticeably low levels.
Presently, the ice floating on the Antarctic Ocean’s surface is 1.5 million square kilometres less than the September average. This is approximately equal to five and a half times the size of New Zealand.
Walter Meier at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre states, “It’s so far outside anything we’ve seen; it’s almost mind-blowing.”
Subtitle: Experts Warn: Unstable Antarctica Could Have Wide-Ranging Effects
According to Dr. Caroline Holmes at the British Antarctic Survey, the level of sea –ice could become further low during the summers.
Antarctica plays a significant role in maintaining the planet’s temperature as its massive white ice plains reflect the sun’s energy back into the atmosphere. Additionally, cool the water below and near it.
Melted areas expose the ocean, which absorbs sunlight instead of reflecting it. Consequently, the water gets warmer, melting more ice. This feedback loop of ice melting is said to be the ice-albedo effect by scientists.
Without the ice cooling mechanism of Antarctica, it could transform from being Earth’s refrigerator to a radiator, experts say.
Significant Amount of People Could Be Impacted by Antarctica’s Melting Ice
Waterfront communities could be diversely affected by even a small increase in sea levels. This could result in storm surges. Several people would be impacted if significant amounts of land ice were to start melting.
What makes it more complicated is the remoteness of the frozen continent. Moreover, the lack of historical information about Antarctica makes it even more difficult for scientists to monitor changes.
The thickness of the ice is yet to be identified.
Scientists are working on determining the causes of the vanishing winter ice.
Dr. Robbie Mallet reported to the BBC that “there is a chance that it’s a really freaking expression of natural variability.” This implies that there could be numerous natural factors that are simultaneously impacting the region.
Contributing factors to Antarctica’s Melting Ice
Scientists suggest that there could be several contributing factors, which include:
- Extremely high ocean temperatures, as warm water will not freeze.
- Changes in ocean currents and the winds that drive temperatures in the Antarctic
- Additionally, the currently developing El Niño weather phenomenon could also be subtly contributing to shrinking sea-ice, although it is still weak.
Prof. Martin Siegert states, “Are we awakening this giant of Antarctica?” He added, “When I started studying the Antarctic 30 years ago, we never thought extreme weather events could happen there.”
The melting of Antarctica’s ice beds is the worst-case scenario, as predicted by Earth’s scientists.
Scientists even believe these low ice records indicate a shift in the condition of the continent.
Dr. Mallet warned that there are “very, very good reasons to be worried.”
“It’s potentially a really alarming sign of Antarctic climate change that hasn’t been there for the last 40 years. And it’s only just emerging now.”