Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Important role for ocean warming and increased ice-shelf melt in Antarctic sea-ice expansion : Nature Geoscience : Nature Publishing Group

Important role for ocean warming and increased ice-shelf melt in Antarctic sea-ice expansion : Nature Geoscience : Nature Publishing Group

 Changes in sea ice significantly modulate climate change because of its high reflective and strong insulating nature. In contrast to Arctic sea ice, sea ice surrounding Antarctica has expanded1, with record extent2 in 2010. This ice expansion has previously been attributed to dynamical atmospheric changes that induce atmospheric cooling3. Here we show that accelerated basal melting of Antarctic ice shelves is likely to have contributed significantly to sea-ice expansion. Specifically, we present observations indicating that melt water from Antarctica’s ice shelves accumulates in a cool and fresh surface layer that shields the surface ocean from the warmer deeper waters that are melting the ice shelves.

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