Tuesday, October 16, 2012

That Other Pole - the Antarctic Is Also Changing Fast

In the northern hemisphere our focus is primarily on the Arctic and the vanishing sea ice.  Australians tend to focus on their backyard, the Antarctic, and they're being warned that change is rapidly spreading.

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) told a Senate estimates hearing today "rapid changes" taking place across the icy land mass would have significant impact on global climate.

Changes in ocean flows and shifts in Antarctic ice cap levels were occurring at rates faster than at any other time in history, chief scientist Nick Gales said.

 ...Scientists were detecting major changes in the circulation of deep, dense salty water off Antarctica.

This water, which drives the circulation of the world's oceans and in turn climate patterns, was reducing, while becoming warmer and less salty.

Meanwhile, parts of the Antarctic ice caps were melting at unprecedented rates.

"The findings around changes in Antarctica and the southern oceans are critically important to driving world climate," Dr Gales said.

"That is the engine room of a large amount of world climate, so changes there are important."

He dismissed suggestions the claims were alarmist, adding scientists were "by definition" sceptics and based their conclusions only on testing data.


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