Scientists are certain that a massive melting of Antarctica would spell disaster globally. If all of the ice in Antarctica were to melt, the sea levels would increase by an estimated 200 feet. Needless to say this level would destroy life as we know on this planet. Despite the potential impacts of glacial melting in Antarctica, the impact of global warming can vary in the Antarctic.
While many studies have shown that melting in the Antarctic has increased due largely to warming oceans, other observations have noted expanding ice. While the two sound at odds, they have both been found by scientists to be the result of climate change impacts in the region. The ozone layer is also playing a role in expanding sea ice in the region as well, a factor that further shows the great differences between the two poles of the planet.
The Antarctic has an ozone hole that occurs each year. CFCs, formerly prolifically used but still present in the atmosphere, have caused the destruction of ozone molecules. Ozone acts as a shield and absorber of the sun’s rays and the subsequent loss of ozone has caused the region be to be cooler. In addition to the ozone loss, scientists have also pointed to changing wind patterns, including stronger winds at ground level, a consequence of changing weather patterns due to climate change, to allowing for the expansion of Antarctic sea ice.
The Antarctic sea ice is said to be expanding to the north due to the aforementioned winds and cool factor (not, however, in the water). Sea ice in the region is said to have increased each decade by one percent in the winter months. While the Arctic has seen record decreases in sea ice coverage during the summer months, the coinciding winter months of the Antarctic recently saw a record spread of ice. On September 16th of this year, the Arctic sea ice record low was 1.32 million square miles. During that time, the Antarctic recorded a record 7.51 million square miles.
The slowly expanding winter sea ice in the Antarctic has been noted since 1979, however, more recent studies have allowed for concrete understanding on why the phenomenon has been occurring. Further studies in the region will unlock further mysteries of the region, a region said to hold many keys to understanding the full extent of climate change.