WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — It may seem counter-intuitive but scientists are saying global warming will lead to more sea ice in Antarctica, while it has the opposite effect in the Arctic.
TheBlaze reported data collected by the National Snow and Ice Data Center last month showing that the Arctic had reached record melt, which was attributed by experts to both natural and man-made global warming at the time.
As the North Pole loses ice, the South Pole has been gaining it. Antarctic sea ice hit a record 7.51 million square miles in September. Watch this animated map showing the record amount of ice next to a comparison of ice levels in previous years:
Climate scientists say this should not be cause for those skeptical of man-made global warming to refute the issue though.
The Associated Press reports experts saying a shift in wind patterns and a hole in the ozone layer, which are attributable to human activity, are likely to increase ice.
“A warming world can have complex and sometimes surprising consequences,” researcher Ted Maksym, with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, said this week from an Australian research vessel surrounded by Antarctic sea ice.
“Scientifically the change is nowhere near as substantial as what we see in the Arctic,” NASA chief scientist and ice expert Waleed Abdalati said. “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be paying attention to it and shouldn’t be talking about it.”
The Arctic ice responds more directly to warmth. In the Antarctic, the main driver is wind, Maksym and other scientists say. Changes in the strength and motion of winds are now pushing the ice farther north, extending its reach.
Those changes in wind are tied in a complicated way to climate change from greenhouse gases, Maksym and Scambos say. Climate change has created essentially a wall of wind that keeps cool weather bottled up in Antarctica, NASA’s Abdalati says.
And the wind works in combination with the ozone hole, the huge gap in Earth’s protective ozone layer that usually appears over the South Pole. It’s bigger than North America.
The hole makes Antarctica even cooler this time of year because the ozone layer usually absorbs solar radiation, working like a blanket to keep the Earth warm. And that cooling effect makes the winds near the ground stronger and steadier, pushing the ice outward, Scambos says.