Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Stronger winds causing Antarctica sea ice growth

  • Written by  Harley Rustad
  • Published in Polar
Stronger winds causing Antarctica sea ice growth University of Hamburg
01 Nov
2013
The puzzling growth of sea ice in parts of Antarctica is probably the result of strengthening winds blowing over the continent, according to a new study

‘The overwhelming evidence is that the Southern Ocean is warming,’ said the study’s author, Jinlun Zhang of the University of Washington. ‘Why would sea ice be increasing? Although the rate of increase is small, it’s a puzzle to scientists.’

The polar vortex – the westerly winds that swirl around the South Pole – is stronger than it was when satellite records began in the 1970s. Using computer simulations that modelled the interaction between wind and sea, Zhang showed that 80 per cent of the growth in Antarctic sea ice over the past 30 years can be attributed to this increase in wind strength. His results indicated that in that period, sea ice more than two metres thick grew by one per cent per year.

The polar vortex forces sheets of sea ice together, leading to a build-up of ice ridges that make the ice thicker and hence longer lasting. The cold winds also cause more ice growth in the exposed water.

‘You’ve got more thick ice, more ridged ice, and at the same time you will get more ice extent because the ice just survives longer,’ said Zhang.

 This story was published in the November 2013 edition of Geographical Magazine

Related items

Julysub 2020

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

geo line break v3

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Oceans

Researchers have revealed just how many polluting microfibres are released…

Wildlife

Increasing reports of seized jaguar fangs and skin suggest that…

Geophoto

Forced isolation has given many of us the chance to…

Oceans

A fifth of the ocean floor has now been mapped,…

Wildlife

Four ex-circus lions discovered in France are due to be…

Oceans

A roundup of some of the top discussions from the…

Energy

The agave plant, used to make Tequila, has proven itself…

Climate

Concerns about the ozone hole have diminished as levels of…

Wildlife

In the Eastern Cape of South Africa, Munu – a…

Geophoto

Photography competition, Earth Photo, returns for the third year with…

Oceans

A new study reveals the process behind the strange phenomenon…

Wildlife

Hunting is a topic that attracts polarised viewpoints. But as…

Oceans

A compilation of 50-years worth of data on human activity…

Wildlife

From the US to the Mediterranean, herds of goats are…

Wildlife

Meet the 2020 Whitley Award winners

Wildlife

Protecting the most famous members of the animal kingdom may…