June 5, 2023


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Researcher sees signs that we can reach a 'tipping point' - NRK Nordland

Researcher sees signs that we can reach a ‘tipping point’ – NRK Nordland

Earlier this month, the news came Heat wave in large parts of East Antarctica.

In several places, a temperature of up to 40 degrees more than usual was measured.

This happens at a time of the year when temperatures were supposed to drop naturally.

This has shocked researchers, who argue that knowledge about the climate in Antarctica – the region around Antarctica – must be rewritten.

But does this mean we need to prepare for the beginning of the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet?

In East Antarctica there are really large numbers, according to illustrator flag. There is enough ice here to lead to an increase several meters.

Researcher Sven Osterhaus explains:

You want better data

Osterhaus is an oceanographer and senior researcher at the NORCE Research Institute.

For decades he has been interested in what is happening in the region around Antarctica.

Photo from a wildlife encounter in Antarctica.

Photo: Svein Østerhus / NORCE

He is currently involved in two EU projects and is working on another one.

A few years ago, the European Union had little interest in Antarctica. But that has changed, and now the European Union is spending large amounts of money on Antarctic research.

Osterhaus points out that perhaps it’s not surprising when we consider that Europe is more exposed to sea-level rise from melting Antarctic ice than it is to Greenland.

The goal is to get better data and understand what’s going on.

It’s important too ought to If major changes occur, early warning is important.

If Antarctica becomes unstable, much of the inland ice could slide into the sea. Osterhus explains that sea level rise can reach several metres.

At the Rothera Research Station.

Nice weather at one of the research stations.

Photo: Svein Østerhus / NORCE

Ice brake roles

he’s afraid ice brakes In Antarctica rather than temperatures, in the question of whether the ice can really melt all at once.

What is the iceberg, you ask? You can look at it like a hat:

You have a lot of ice inside, and that ice extends out to sea. Like the brim of a hat.

It is important to understand that the ice shelf has two important roles:

Around Antarctica there is also sea ice.

Provides important protection for all icebergs.

What was observed, Osterhus explained, is that things happened in the atmosphere that contributed to changes in the sea ice – which in turn leads to reduced protection of the ice shelves.

“We’re seeing changes in wind systems that are leading to changes in sea ice production and transportation,” he says.

Hot water under the iceberg will make it thinner. and reduce the force that keeps the ice cap in place.

This is how more inland ice can slip into the sea (which in turn causes sea level to rise).

The result of this may be that we create a so-called “tipping point”.

– That’s what we’re afraid of.

Box “tilt”

What does “tilt” mean?

Yes – changes in sea ice composition can result in heavy water production (Which protects from hot water on the continental slope) becomes smaller.

The protection power can be reduced so much that the hot water can flow out completely.

– Then it can be tilted so that more and more hot water flows out. You get less and less protective water.

– Then he can be fully swayed. So there is no going back.

Distribution of sea ice in Antarctica.

In February 2022, sea ice around Antarctica reached its lowest level since satellite measurements began in 1979. This is the first time the ice has been observed shrinking to less than 2 million square kilometers, NASA reports. The prevalence rate was very variable. It’s grown a lot for a while, but has dwindled again in the last year. It’s hard to tell if it’s about climate change, Osterhus says.

Graphics: NASA’s Earth Observatory

a little knowledge

Are changes in pressure systems a sign that we may be reaching a point of no return?

– Yes. “We’ve seen episodes where the hot water reaches a little further than we’ve seen before,” Osterhaus says.

In the Amundsen Sea, for example, warmer waters are now seen flowing under the ice sheet and melting rapidly, he continues.

This is much smaller than the two giants Russians And the Fletchner Ron – but However, one of these glaciers is called the Doomsday Glacier.

Antarctica map overview.

In the above section, there were several names. Here you see the places in Antarctica they are referring to.

Photo: Martin Künsting/AWI

It seems to be falling apart and it’s not a good sign for the future.

We’re following closely and constantly receiving new observations so we can give an early warning if warm water is flowing under the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf as the world’s largest ice shelf by volume.


Is a tipping point imminent?

Go to

NRK Osterhaus asks the question you might be wondering right now: Is a tipping point imminent?

So far, there are no signs of major changes that make Osterhuss worried that a tipping point is imminent. Even with some tags.

– In two publications we issued last year, we concluded that there are fairly stable conditions for the large and important Filchner-Ronne ice shelf, he says.

Along with his colleagues, he was also behind a post with a slightly shorter time series.

– There we see that there has been a change in sea ice production due to changes in wind regimes. But we have a few years of data, so we have to be careful with conclusions.

Important links

NRK also asked Marianne Tronstadt Lund at the CICERO Center for Climate Research. About what you think about what’s happening in Antarctica right now.

She writes in an email that she Important links exist between the polar regions and lower latitudes. So that changes in the Arctic and Antarctic can affect the weather in the South / North.

The Arctic has always been the “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to climate – an early and clear warning sign of climate change. In Antarctica, changes have been slower for a long time and have been less noticeable, but this is changing, Lund wrote in the email.

Are you worried about climate change? 🤔

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