New Antarctic ice discovery aids future climate predictions

Antarctica
Credit: Newcastle University

A team of British climate scientists comparing today's environment with the warm period before the last ice age has discovered a 65% reduction of Antarctic sea ice around 128,000 years ago. The finding is an important contribution towards the challenge of making robust predictions about the Earth's future climate.

Reporting this week in the journal Nature Communications describe how by reconstructing the Earth's climate history through analysis of Antarctic ice cores they can determine what environmental conditions were like during ice ages and past warm periods. This study focussed on sea ice conditions during the most recent warm period - known as the last interglacial - when global temperatures were similar to today.

Sea ice in the Arctic and around Antarctica regulates climate as, in summer vast areas of whiteness reflect heat from the sun back into the atmosphere, whilst in winter, sea ice prevents heat from escaping from the warm ocean to the air. Current climate models forecast a reduction in Antarctic sea ice of up to about 60% by the end of the next century. Finding a 65% reduction in the climate record during a time when global climate conditions were similar to the present day is especially relevant.

The research team from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and from the Universities of Bristol, Reading, Leeds and Cambridge studied data from ice cores drilled on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. A climate model was then used in the analysis of these data. The ice core data and climate model simulations were combined using advanced statistical techniques to determine the state of Antarctic sea ice 128,000 years ago.

Lead author Max Holloway of British Antarctic Survey explains, "We know that the Earth's climate is changing and that climate models predict a warmer world. What we are not yet sure about is the precise magnitude of future change or the timeline. This is where looking into the past can help. We used a number of analytical techniques to quantify change in sea ice extent around Antarctica during this important past .

"We were expecting to see a relationship between warm temperatures around 128,000 years ago and a past collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Surprisingly, we found that a major retreat of Antarctic sea ice is a more likely explanation. Our analysis suggests that a collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet occurred later during the last interglacial. Something that our team will be looking at in more detail through another collaborative UK-US project."

Today researchers observe differences between sea ice changes at both poles. This is largely due to different geography - the Arctic being a frozen sea surrounded by land and the Antarctic being a frozen landmass surrounded by sea. Whilst a rapid sea ice retreat has been recorded in the Arctic in recent decades, sea ice extent around some parts of the Antarctic have grown. Understanding the similarities and differences between hemispheres has been the subject of intense study by the international polar research community.

Research group leader, Dr Louise Sime, of BAS, said: "The current rapid retreat of sea ice in the Arctic Sea is of critical importance to Arctic ecosystems and global climate. By uncovering, for the first time, a huge retreat around Antarctica we have established that sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere is also susceptible to major changes. This discovery will help us understand whether similar sea ice retreat events are likely in a future high-CO2 world.

"Although Arctic sea ice has diminished during the past 30 years, little change has been observed around Antarctica. This discovery in the ice core record of a massive loss of sea ice provides evidence that Antarctic can also undergo similar major reductions. This may give vital clues to what might happen by the end of the next century."


Explore further

Changes in Antarctic sea ice production due to surrounding ice conditions

More information: Antarctic last interglacial isotope peak in response to sea ice retreat not ice-sheet collapse, Max D. Holloway, Louise C. Sime, Joy S. Singarayer, Julia C. Tindall, Pete Bunch & Paul J. Valdes, Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12293
Journal information: Nature Communications

Citation: New Antarctic ice discovery aids future climate predictions (2016, August 16) retrieved 26 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-08-antarctic-ice-discovery-aids-future.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
644 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Aug 16, 2016
"A prime piece of evidence linking human activity to climate change turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics."
https://www.techn...mbshell/

Aug 16, 2016
We were expecting to see a relationship between warm temperatures around 128,000 years ago and a past collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Surprisingly, we found that a major retreat of Antarctic sea ice is a more likely explanation.

That other infamous cult; the Church, has a saying for it's ignorant flock -- "Seek and ye shall find".
For the AGW Cult it is "Seek and when ye does not find, just make some shit up and keep looking", for the Chicken Littles are hungry.
Billions of your tax dollars being squandered on the biggest lie against humanity.

Aug 16, 2016
Chicken Little??? I'm using my own name- check the user page- you anonymous COWARD. You're so proud of your position? You deride neuroses? Then give your name, you god damned hypocrite! Make your argument to me in person. I travel a lot and I get to pretty much anywhere, so STFU or put up.

You hide behind a pseudonym because you're a lying coward. Are you really a man? Prove it. I am. I'm willing to prove it. You're the chicken, you can't defend yourself like a man. Come on, you shrivel dicked, obese shill. That's why women won't have anything to do with you. You're a chicken. Fuck your projection and let's get down to mano a mano.

Bwwaaaaaaaaaaaakkkkk! Bock,bock,bock,bock,bock,begowwwwk!

Actually, in your case, it's probably more like, "Peep. Peep."

If anyone has a clue to this idiot's identity PM me and you will be richly rewarded with the results. I'm also a skip tracer. This one's COWARDLY hiding is over.

Aug 16, 2016
@antigoracle: "when ye does not find" … Good grief. If you are going to use Jacobean/Elizabethan English, at least use it properly. It's "when ye do not find". "Does" was 3rd person singular, just as it is today.

Aug 16, 2016
SLOOHCox, do it!

The anonymous snipers and other cowardly attackers on this forum have wrecked it.

Aug 16, 2016
Chicken Little??? I'm using my own name- check the user page- you anonymous COWARD

Is that your best pickup line to get boyfriends?

I travel a lot and I get to pretty much anywhere

Sure you do and I bet you float to get there, like the turd you are and don't burn any fossil fuels.

You hide behind a pseudonym because you're a lying coward. Are you really a man? Prove it. I am. I'm willing to prove it. You're the chicken, you can't defend yourself like a man. Come on, you shrivel dicked, obese shill.

Aww.. such a flirt and so desperate to bend over for me.

Fuck your projection and let's get down to mano a mano.

You are going to be disappointed since I don't swing that way.

Aug 16, 2016
anti, please just go away.

Get back into tagging.


Aug 16, 2016
may, might, "by the end of next century", i.e. year 2200. These scientists will surely die, their several generations will die by this time. I don't understand why all scientists make future predictions far greater than their life time...! Is this really science or astrology, palm (ice core) reading? Stop this threatening science!

Aug 16, 2016
It seems these scientists have really found out the exact solutions of Navier-Stokes equation to make such predictions so far into the future.

Aug 16, 2016
During this period CO2 didn't reach 300-ppm, consider that the Pleistocene avg rate-of-change was 1-ppm/1000-years, big jump up at the end of the last ice-age 1-ppm/180-years and we hit 3.05-ppm added last year, a new record.

So variation was 180-280 maximum for the past 800k-years 305±5-ppm for 9% variation at 405-ppm it's 45% variation, 5-times outside "natural variation", and with oceans acidifying 10-times faster than an extinction event indelible proof that we are in a carbon excursion.

What that means to the tiny-humans is 25% of our emissions are still there 10,000-years from now, it means zeroing emissions doesn't cool the planet anymore, too bad, eh?

Sequestering 37-Gigatons of CO2eqv in one year only handles last year's emissions, it's a pipe dream to think that much carbon won't ruin any strata that gets it, it'll cause a benthic extinction dumped into the sea.

End the Steam-Age or we're 4C/7.F and 2m6.6ft of sea-level rise in 84-years.

Aug 16, 2016
Why is Antarctic sea ice growing? http://phys.org/n...ice.html

Experts: Global warming means more Antarctic ice http://phys.org/n...ice.html

What is a poor AGW Cult to do when reality defies your dogma of doom and gloom. Well, you peer into your CO2 filled crystal ball, until you can "see" way back to 128000 years ago and then you just make up shit for your ignorant, hungry Chicken Littles.

The Queen has to go begging to the Chinese for a loan, while BILLIONS are being squandered to propagate the AGW lie.

Aug 16, 2016
"A prime piece of evidence linking human activity to climate change turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics."
https://www.techn...mbshell/


Out of curiosity I actually clicked on that. I mean, seriously, an article written 12 years ago? So, what, you read something that you wanted to believe was true 12 years ago and then haven't read anything - no science, no journals, no other publications - since? Why the hell do people like you hang out in comments sections anyway?

Aug 16, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Aug 16, 2016
"Why the hell do people like you hang out in comments sections anyway?"
Its like there is no longer any borders and anyone can migrate into your science space and these migrants that don't much care for science and scientists are projected to be a growing demographic. These migrants are the carbon of science change, a global disaster.

Aug 16, 2016
"Why the hell do people like you hang out in comments sections anyway?"
Its like there is no longer any borders and anyone can migrate into your science space and these migrants that don't much care for science and scientists are projected to be a growing demographic. These migrants are the carbon of science change, a global disaster.


You literally just said that people like you who reject science have the right to be as irrational, illogical and as demonstrably wrong as they choose, wherever they choose. My question was why you would want to be. I mean, why run around yelling "I'm wrong about this thing that is proven true!" at people. Is that fun?

Hey, someone on Twitter just told me that the moon landings never happened and linked me to an article from 1984. I think I'll believe that now too. It's totally more plausible than facts, logic or evidence.

Aug 21, 2016
may, might, "by the end of next century", i.e. year 2200. These scientists will surely die, their several generations will die by this time. I don't understand why all scientists make future predictions far greater than their life time...!


It is because they have something called compassion and altruism; like me, they are concerned (concerned if this generation does nothing about long term problems) about the well being of future generations long after they themselves are dead.

Is this really science or astrology, palm (ice core) reading? Stop this threatening science!

No, science isn't astrology and it isn't the science that is threatening but rather it is people who don't care a **** about the future of humanity that are threatening; THEY are the ones that are the threat here (to humanities future).

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more