Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Expansion of Antarctic Sea Ice Attributed to Ozone Hole
With our planet heating up it would be expected that the sea ice around Antarctica would be shrinking like the sea ice in the Arctic. However, over the past few decades the reverse has been true. This contradiction of expanding ice in a warming world can be attributed to the ozone hole over the Antarctic region according to scientists from the British Antarctic Survey and NASA. In an article from Reuters the explanation given by the scientists is that their research shows that the ozone hole disrupts the wind patterns around Antarctica, causing more frequent wind to blow off the ice-covered continent and thereby cool the sea leading to more ice formation. In addition, the wind blows the existing ice away from shore leaving open sea water which becomes frozen from the cold wind. If the scientists are correct that the ozone hole is responsible for sea ice expanding rather than contracting it would seem likely that the Antarctic sea ice should start contracting at some point during this century because of global warming since it is expected that the ozone levels in the upper atmosphere will fully recover by the end of this century.