In Antarctica, an upwelling of cold, deep old water, due to ocean currents, might be responsible for slowing down the effects of climate change in that area. That is the conclusion that a recent study by researchers from the University of Washington have reached. Still, even though Antarctica might be the last region on Earth to experience climate change, the researchers are quick to point out that any additional warming caused by humans is potentially detrimental, and can lead to widespread flooding, among other major problems, according to Headlines & Global News.
People who deny that climate change is happening often point out that the ocean waters around Antarctica has stayed the same temperature even if it might seem as if the rest of the planet is becoming warmer. The study by researchers from the University of Washington examined the reasons for this apparent inconsistency. The researchers found that the temperatures of the water around Antarctica stays roughly the same from year to year because of unique ocean currents there “that continually pull deep, old water up to the surface.”
The researchers used climate models and observations to reach this conclusion. The old water that is brought up to the surface of the Antarctic Ocean has not touched the surface of the ocean since before the industrial age, which means it has been “hidden from human-driven climate change.”
That is why, according to the lead author of the study, Kyle Armour of the University of Washington, even with rising levels of carbon dioxide, there appears to be more warming going on “at one of the poles,” rather than at both of them. He went on to say that the hero here is the ocean currents.
Armour said that contrary to an old idea about what happens with the heat at the surface of the water, it does not get mixed downward. Instead, he said that the observations of the researchers “show that heat is actually being carried away from Antarctica, northward along the surface.” The researchers published their study in the May 30 issue of Nature Geoscience.
The climate change or warming going on at both of the poles cannot be directly compared, according to Armour, “because it’s occurring on top of very different ocean circulations.” While global warming is occurring, it is not occurring at the same rate everywhere around the planet.
When scientists now refer to climate change, Armour said that they will be moving away from talking about global warming and instead focus more on the idea of regional patterns of warming that are shaped by ocean’s currents.
This unequal warming of the globe could last “for centuries,” according to an article in The Japan Times. That is a bit of good news, when it comes to climate change, but it does not mean that global warming is not playing havoc across the rest of the Earth, including the East Antarctica. Even slight warming can do damage. A glacier approximately the size of France is located in East Antarctica, and it is shedding water at a rapid pace, which could cause sea levels to rise by six feet in only a few centuries.
In Antarctica, ocean currents pulling up “old water” from the depths of the ocean appear to explain why climate change is not occurring at the same rate of speed across the Earth. The water that is brought up comes from “5,000 meters deep,” according to the Morning Ticker. That helps explain why “the Southern Ocean has warmed just 0.02 degree Celsius since 1950, compared to 0.08 degree worldwide,” and it also might cause scientists to now talk about climate change on a regional level rather than a global one, according to the authors of the study. For more CDA News, follow our tweets on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
By John Samuels