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Atmospheric rivers help form huge holes in Antarctic sea ice



Atmospheric rivers help form huge holes in Antarctic sea ice

On September 1

6, 2017, a cloud band in an atmospheric river extending from South America to the Antarctic sea ice region. Provided by: NASA

According to research co-authored by Rutgers, Antarctica’s warm and humid air rivers play a key role in the formation of huge holes in the sea ice of the Weddell Sea, and may affect the ocean conditions of the vast continent and climate change.


Scientists have studied the role of warm and humid long and strong plumes (called atmospheric rivers) in the formation of huge openings in sea ice. They focused on the Weddell Sea area of ​​the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. These sea ice caves (called Polyanias) rarely appear in winter. A large hole was first discovered in the area in 1973, and another hole appeared at the end of winter and early spring of 2017.

In similar research, published in the journal Scientific progress, Scientists discovered that strong atmospheric rivers that recurred from late August to mid-September 2017 played a key role in the formation of sea ice caves. These rivers bring the warm and humid air from the coast of South America to the polar environment, warming the surface of sea ice and making it easy to melt.

Kyle Martinly, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at Rutgers University, said: “The Poniyas strongly influence the physical and ecological dynamics of the Southern Ocean.” “They act as giants in sea ice. The’windows’ transfer a large amount of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere, thereby changing the regional and global ocean circulation. They also affect the time and intensity of phytoplankton (algae) blooming, the basis of the marine food web. Our research will further understand Climate variability and climate change in these areas pave the way.”

Atmospheric rivers help form huge holes in Antarctic sea ice

On September 25, 2017, nine days after an atmospheric river extending from South America to the Antarctic sea ice belt, a Polynia (a giant sea ice cave) appeared. Image source: NASA

Previous studies have found that atmospheric river water affects the melting of land ice and ice shelves in western Antarctica, and this new study is the first to reveal their impact on Antarctic sea ice. Rivers are thousands of miles long, and sea ice caves cover thousands of square miles, usually in specific locations that are affected by local ocean circulation conditions.

West Antarctica is located on land and is a huge ice sheet that is melting and contributing to the rise of global sea levels. The melting will accelerate in the 21st century. According to data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, if the entire Antarctic ice sheet melts, the sea level will rise by about 200 feet. Rising sea levels and flooding caused by coastal storms threaten coastal communities around the world, especially in low-lying areas.

Under the forecast of future climate change, rivers in the atmosphere will become more frequent, longer, and wider, and more effectively transport high levels of water vapor to the Antarctic ocean and continents, while the intensity of precipitation is also increasing. Usually, it is expected that the place where they make landfall will shift to the poles. The impact of climate change on the Weddell Sea and sea ice caves in other parts of the Southern Ocean is an important area of ​​future research.


The river melts the Arctic ice, warming the ocean and the ocean


More information:
“About the key role of the atmospheric river in the two major events of Wedeprinia in Antarctica in 1973 and 2017” Scientific progress (2020). advances.sciencemag.org/lookup….1126 / sciadv.abc2695

Provided by Rutgers University

Citation: Atmospheric rivers help form huge holes in Antarctic sea ice (November 11, 2020), November 11, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-11-atmospheric-rivers-massive-holes -antarctic.html search

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