Study finds unexpected new Antarctic carbon sink

Global warming is just getting started in the Antarctic region.

Global warming is just getting started in the Antarctic region.

Increased seafloor life seen as negative global warming feedback

Staff Report

Shrinking sea ice around parts of Antarctica has spurred the growth of seafloor life that may help accumulating and bury carbon, researchers reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

“It was a surprise that life had been invisibly responding to climate change for more than a decade below one of the most obviously visible impacts of climate change: the ‘blueing’ poles,” said David Barnes, of the British Antarctic Survey. “We’ve found that a significant area of the planet, more than three million square kilometers, is a considerable carbon sink and, more importantly, a negative feedback on climate change.” Continue reading

Burning the rest of Earth’s fossil fuels would completely melt Antarctica

New study looks far into the climate future


Antarctic ice sheets are already melting, but — you ain’t seen nothing yet. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Using the rest of Earth’s fossil fuels is not an option — at least not if humankind wants to avoid 150 to 200 feet of sea level rise, a team of prominent scientists said after trying to project the fate of the world’s ice sheets over the next 10,000 years.

Burning the remaining stores of coal and oil would likely lead to a complete meltdown of Antarctica, which would, over the course of millenia, swamp most of the planets densely populated areas, and them some. Continue reading

Morning photo: Got ice?

Antarctica revisited

FRISCO — It’s been a few years, but I never get tired of revisiting these archived images of a journey around the fringes of Antarctica. And when I do, I fret, because it’s pretty certain now that all the greenhouse gases we’ve spewed into the atmosphere the past century or so are going to irrevocably going to change this place, and probably not for the better.

Already, there are clear signs that the ice sheets in West Antarctica are crumbling. That won’t just change the landscapes in the region; it will have far-reaching implications around the world by raising the seas to levels that humankind has not seen. Climate change also has serious implications for the abundant and diverse ecosystems around Antarctica. Invasive species from warmer regions are already starting to move in, and there have been marked shifts in penguin distributions. We may be able to limit some of the negative impacts if we act quickly to cut greenhouse gas pollution. Learn more about the Antarctic environment by checking out these Summit Voice stories.

Arctic sea ice dwindles to second-lowest extent ever


Arctic sea ice now at it’s second-lowest extent on record. @bberwyn photo.

Antarctic sea ice extent below average for the first time in four years

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a mid-month update, researchers with the National Snow and Ice Data Center said that Arctic sea ice has dwindled to the second-lowest extent on record, with an above-average melt rate during the first half of August. The only time there was less sea ice was in 2012, which set the record for the lowest extent.

The NSIDC also reported that Antarctic sea ice extent is below the 1981 to 2010 average for the first time in nearly four years. Antarctic sea ice expanded by just 96,500 square miles between August 1 and August 17, and retreated around the Antarctic Peninsula, in the Ross Sea, and around the coast of Wilkes Land. Continue reading

Climate: Melting Antarctic glaciers may boost ocean food chain

Study explores Southern Ocean nutrient cycle


Between hunts, a leopard seal snoozes on an ice floe in a polynya near the Antarctic Peninsula. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Melting Antarctic glaciers are adding nutrients to the Southern Ocean, potentially boosting the entire food chain. The Southern Ocean could become a more productive ecosystem as a result of climate change, scientists suggested in a new study accepted for publication in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, an American Geophysical Union journal. Continue reading

Climate: Study assesses impacts of warmer water, ocean acidification on Antarctic fish

Reserarchers see changes in embryo development

sdfg Report on the deep-sea fishes collected by H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-1876 Günther, Albert C. L. G. (Albert Carl Ludwig Gotthilf), 1830-1914

A drawing of an Antarctic dragonfish from a report on the deep-sea fishes collected by H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-1876.  Günther, Albert C. L. G. (Albert Carl Ludwig Gotthilf).

Staff Report

FRISCO — In another clue as to how warmer and more acidic waters will affect ocean life, scientists with the University of California Davis and San Francisco State University have found that the combination speeds up the development of dragonfish larvae.

The researchers studied the fish in part because their embryos are slow to form, which could make them more susceptible to changed conditions. The findings suggest that higher levels of CO2 and warmer waters have a big impact on the survival and development of the Antarctic dragonfish. The research article was published in the journal Conservation Physiology. Continue reading

Climate: Is this the Antarctic tipping point?

Study shows widespread, simultaneous ice shelf melting


Satellite data shows sudden shift in ice shelf dynamics along the southern Antarctic Peninsula. @berwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Along with studies showing dramatic changes in individual ice shelves in Antarctica, new research shows widespread changes in the region since 2009. Up until then, the Southern Antarctic Peninsula showed no signs of change.

But suddenly, multiple glaciers along a vast coastal expanse, measuring some 750km in length, suddenly started to shed ice into the ocean at a nearly constant rate of 60 cubic kilometers, or about 55 trillion liters of water, each year. This makes the region the second largest contributor to sea level rise in Antarctica and the ice loss shows no sign of waning. Continue reading


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