Water from melting Antarctica ice sheet would disrupt climate of entire planet

Rising temperature of the globe s going to have some serious consequences on Earth‘s climate. We know that already and we know it is not going to be nice. However, we did not know what exactly is going to happen. Now scientists used some computer models showed how sensitive the Earth’s climate might be to changes in Antarctica.

The role of Antarctica on Earth’s climate is still not fully understood, but scientists think its ice sheets dampen sudden abnormalities in planet’s weather. Image credit: Andrew Mandemaker via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.5

Releasing some very cold water into the ocean should actually make it cool down a bit. But analysis, carried out by an international team of scientists, revealed that while cooling of the sea surface around Antarctica would take place, deeper in the ocean temperatures would begin to rise. However, melt water release from Antarctica would trigger some changes far away in Northern hemisphere also, which is related to the global ocean circulation. In turn, it will not only raise global sea level, but will also have tremendous consequences on the climate of entire planet.

This information seems to be reliable, as scientists used their computer model to investigate how Antarctica and the global climate may have changed during the last 8,000 years in order to predict what effects would release of melt water in the Antarctic ice sheet have on Earth’s climate. Scientists took the period after the last ice age into consideration, because back then, when planet was coming back to warmer weather, a lot of ice has melted and sea levels increased. Researchers also conducted a series of experiments and consulted with geological records to make sure their timescale is representative.

Besides the discovery of effects in Northern hemisphere, this research also showed that high-frequency changes in ocean temperatures are usually absorbed by the Antarctic ice sheet, which makes it even more important for the climate regulation. Dr Pepijn Bakker, leader of the study, said: “Whilst this might be seen as a good thing, it also implies that once the ice sheet starts responding, by melting, it may be too late to prevent the consequences”. Scientists said that results of the study explain why sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere has been increasing despite the warming of the rest of the Earth – it is happening because Antarctic ice is dampening quick climate changes.

There are many researches about the climate change. We now have a lot of information. However, actions are still lacking behind. We still did not answer the main question – how will we stop the climate change?