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Why Total Antarctic Sea Ice Coverage has Increased despite a Warming Climate

November 12, 2012; 4:23 PM ET

Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have uncovered the first direct evidence that marked changes to Antarctic sea ice drift have occurred over the last 20 years in response to changing winds.

That evidence was gathered by maps created by the JPL, which used over 5 million individual daily ice motion measurements taken over a 19-year period by US Defense Meteorological satellites, according to the BAS press release.

Excerpt from the BAS press release......

Until now, these changes in Antarctic ice drift were only speculated upon, using computer models of Antarctic winds, according to lead author Dr. Paul Holland of the BAS.

The total Antarctic sea-ice cover is increasing slowly, but individual regions are actually experiencing much larger gains and losses that are almost offsetting each other overall. We now know that these regional changes are caused by changes in the winds, which in turn affect the ice cover through changes in both ice drift and air temperature. The changes in ice drift also suggest large changes in the ocean surrounding Antarctica, which is very sensitive to the cold and salty water produced by sea-ice growth, said Holland.

Dr. Ron Kwok of the JPL notes that it is important to distinguish between the Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is losing volume and Antarctic sea ice, which is expanding.


Again, you can read the full press release right here.

The study was published in Nature Geoscience.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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