New Study Links Sea Ice Loss to Weather Changes in Tropics

The ice shedding events in the Arctic and Antarctic will be the culprit behind approximately one-fifth of the warming that is predicted to take place in the tropics, as per new research says.

The study was led by Mark England, a polar climate scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, and Lorenzo Polvani, the Maurice Ewing and J. Lamar Worzel Professor of Geophysics at Columbia Engineering, England’s doctoral supervisor.

Although there is an increasing number of research detailing how the loss of Arctic sea ice impacts other regions of the planet, this paper is the first to also talk about the long-lasting effect of Antarctic sea ice thaw, the research team said.

“We think this is a game-changer as it shows that ice loss at both poles is crucial to understanding future tropical climate change,” England said of the analysis funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation. “Our study will open a hitherto unexplored direction and motivate the science community to study the large effects that Antarctic sea ice loss will have on the climate system.”

Ice Sea Loss Triggers Intense Events in Various Regions of the World

Both 2017 and 2018 registered records for minimum sea ice spread in Antarctica. England and fellow researchers from Colombia University’s School of Engineering, Colorado State University, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado utilized computer simulations to gain an understanding of what kind of events could take place near the equator of that drop continues through the end of the century.

They discovered that Antarctic sea ice loss mixes with Arctic sea ice loss to produce peculiar wind patterns in the Pacific Ocean that will subdue the upward activity of deep cold ocean water. This will cause surface ocean warming, more so in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Warming is a renowned mark of the El Niño climate pattern that usually comes with powerful rains to North and South America and droughts to Australia and other western Pacific regions.

While that surface ocean water warms, it will also trigger more precipitation. In general, the scientists believe that the ice loss at both poles will account for the warming of the surface ocean of 0.5 mm or (0.9 inches) at the equator and 0.3 mm (0.01 inches) of rain per day in the same area.

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