Sea ice surrounding Antarctica is expanding due to increased winds, according to a paper published Sunday in the journal Nature.
Sea ice around Antarctica is expanding due to increased winds, says a paper published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.
“The total Antarctic sea-ice cover is increasing slowly,” Paul Holland, the lead author of the report, said in a statement.
Arctic ice covering the other pole shrank to the smallest ever in September, one of the most visible effects of climate change. Increasing wind activity near the South Pole over the past 19 years has had the opposite effect on the ice cover, said Ron Kwok, the report’s co-author.
“In certain areas, it’s moving the ice edge out toward the ocean,” Kwok said
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Antarctica, unlike the Arctic, is significantly more vulnerable to strong winds because the northern ice cap “is landlocked, except for certain passages into the ocean,” said Kwok, a NASA researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “It’s less sensitive to wind.”
Ice cover in the Ross Sea region close to the South Pacific Ocean has expanded the most, he said, while in other areas, “where the wind is pushing toward the coast, it’s shrinking.”
The Arctic ice cap was 1.32 million square miles Sept. 16, the lowest measure in a satellite record that dates back 33 years, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.
“We don’t know the thickness,” Kwok said. “We don’t know the volume of the ice very well. It’s something that we’re still trying to understand.”