A scientific study published Monday found that Antarctica is defying global warming, so The Daily Caller News Foundation sat down with Chip Knappenberger, a climate scientist at the libertarian Cato Institute, to examine the research’s impact.
The research, published by scientists from the University of Washington, concluded that the extremely cold water around the southern continent explains why sea ice in Antarctica is expanding while Arctic sea ice is shrinking.
The new research demonstrates that previous green claims that the deep ocean is artificially making the planet cooler by sequestering heat were incorrect and could mean that global warming would cause less sea level rise than originally believed.
“The new paper sheds some new light on the reason for the relative lack of observed warming of the surface ocean temperatures around Antarctica,” Knappenberger told TheDCNF. “This lack of warming has allowed sea ice around Antarctica to behave in a nearly opposite manner to the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. While Arctic sea ice has been in decline over recent decades, Antarctic sea ice has expanded slightly.”
The study shows the unique ocean currents that surround Antarctica continually pull very deep and very cold seawater to the surface. This water would counteract the impact of global warming in the region as extra heat is transported northwards, making global warming less intense in Antarctica than previously expected. A similar effect occurs on a smaller scale in other regions, such as off America’s West Coast.
“The Southern Ocean is unique because it’s bringing water up from several thousand meters [as much as 2 miles],” Kyle Armour, the study’s lead author, said in the study’s press release. “It’s really deep, old water that’s coming up to the surface, all around the continent. You have a lot of water coming to the surface, and that water hasn’t seen the atmosphere for hundreds of years.”
The research used dyes and computer modeling to show that seawater that has experienced the largest temperature increases tends to be centered around the North Pole, while Antarctica remains mostly unaffected.
“The new study suggests it is simply a result of natural ocean circulation patterns—patterns which will maintain the very slow rate of warming for centuries into the future and present a stark contrast to a rapidly warming Arctic,” Knappenberger continued. “This finding has potential implications of the future course of global sea level rise—perhaps the greatest concern of a warming planet. If surface warming rates remain low around Antarctica, their impact on ice loss there should be minimal.”
The research shows why the amount of ice on Antarctica is growing slightly in size.
“All in all, the new findings suggest that the Antarctic ocean will be among the slowest places on earth to warm—the implications of this still need to be explored, as they are undoubtedly complex,” Knappenberger concluded. “This is yet another example of the science most definitely NOT being settled.”