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What Would Happen if Climate Change Sped Up?
Fall As You Know It Is Disappearing
According to new NASA research, from 1992 to 2001 Antarctica gained more ice than it lost to melting at the rate of 112 billion tons of ice every year. Climate change had us believing that the polar ice caps were melting. If the globe is getting hotter, then how can Antarctica be gaining ice? Sadly, research still states, unequivocally, that Antarctica is losing ice at a fantastic rate across most of the continent. Ice has increased in "East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica." But other parts of Antarctica are still melting. To be clear gaining sea ice is actually a bad thing.
There's an annual cycle of sea ice melt and freeze: ice is at it's lowest point in February and March, and thickest in September and October. According to paper about to be published by NASA Goddard, global warming and climate change are actually increasing the sea ice. Melting glaciers have been depositing freshwater into the Southern Ocean, and since saltwater has a much lower freezing point; it can get colder before freezing. This paper's conclusion is that the top layer of water surrounding Antarctica has been diluted by the massive freshwater melt from the ice shelves and freezes more easily today than in previous decades.
Learn more about Global Warming and Climate Change on TestTube
The 2012 study is one of several studies that have found an increase in sea ice accumulation each decade. In a few more years, the new author James Hansen says, "it will be clearer," because the sea ice will continue to expand. The overall ice trend is still more melting than freezing. Plus saltwater underneath the freshwater dilution is still warming thanks to the overall climate trend. NASA scientists are quick to say that it is very difficult to accurately measure all of these things, because of snow levels sitting atop the ice, and the constantly changing landscape of such a large area.
In 2013, the UN blamed the increasing sea ice with a .27 millimeter-per-year sea level rise. However, what this study is showing us is that there's more than meets the eye going on here. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say that the seas are unequivocally rising, but now we aren't 100 percent sure why, which is scarier to think about. Moving forward, scientists know they have to learn even more about what is causing the sea level rise, because it might not just be ice melt. The oceans have warmed about 0.1 degrees Celsius over the last century, in the top 700 meters, and though that seems small, that's just an average. Something so small, over something as large as the ocean, could completely change the topography, weather, and expected behavior of the largest single entity on Earth.
How does this study make you feel? Please let us know in the comments.
NASA Study: Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet Greater than Losses (NASA)
"A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers."
Is Sea Level Rising? (NOAA)
"Sea level indicators suggest that global sea level did not change significantly from then until the late 19th century. The instrumental record of modern sea level change shows evidence for onset of sea level rise during the 19th century."