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Earth Science

Shrinking Waves May Save Antarctic Sea Ice 298

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "It's a nagging thorn in the side of climatologists: Even though the world is warming, the average area of the sea ice around Antarctica is increasing. Climate models haven't explained this seeming contradiction to anyone's satisfaction—and climate change deniers tout that failure early and often. But a new paper suggests a possible explanation: Variability in the heights of ocean waves pounding into the sea ice may help control its advance and retreat."
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Shrinking Waves May Save Antarctic Sea Ice

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  • by GNious ( 953874 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @04:48AM (#47117471)

    Wasn't the increase in ice-area attributed to the melt from inland not being salty, and thus having a higher freezing-point?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 29, 2014 @06:14AM (#47117693)

    1. Sea ice is thin and temporary and has no effect on sea level. It grows and shrinks according to SHORT TERM weather.
    2. The collapsing glacier is massive and land-based so its melting will raise sea level. It is melting because of LONG TERM climate change.
    3. The collapse of the ONCE-PERMANENT glacier is cooling the surrounding water, causing a TEMPORARY increase in surface ice.

    If you look at the diagram that they used to describe the collapse of the glaciers, you will see why. http://gph.is/1mWdkPK Warm water at the ocean floor melts the permanent glacier. As the water cools, it rises to the surface, causing it to lower the temperature of the surface water, increasing the amount of surface ice.

    In effect, the PERMANENT, LAND-BASED glacier is quickly becoming TEMPORARY, SEA-BASED ice. Even if this sea-based ice remains or even expands, it will have already raised sea-levels.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @06:48AM (#47117795)

    It's seasonal, and one of the reasons for the increase is increased precipitation (caused by, you guessed it, global warming).
    The sea there is actually warmer, and the land ice is shrinking.
    In short, this is only interesting if you need facts with superficial interpretations that can "refute" global warming to the uninformed masses.

    http://www.skepticalscience.co... [skepticalscience.com]

    p.s. - I notice in another skepticalscience link that gw deniers have joined evolution deniers in invoking the second law of thermodynamics as "proof that it couldn't happen". As if scientists are ignorant of the 2LoT.

  • Seen it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dargaud ( 518470 ) <slashdot2@gdarga[ ]net ['ud.' in gap]> on Thursday May 29, 2014 @07:44AM (#47117955) Homepage
    As someone who's seen sea-ice breakups in Antarctica, they don't happen when the temperature warms up, but when there's a storm in certain directions, usually from the north, leading to waves breaking and carrying away the ice quickly. Emperor penguin chicks pay a heavy tribute to those every few years.
  • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @11:36AM (#47119921)
    Not really. The moisture holding capacity of air doesn't really increase that quickly in the temperature range we are talking about: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.... [engineeringtoolbox.com]

    And further, human addition of water vapor is a slowly moving equilibrium that will be quickly pushed back when something "breaks" and thus causes economic damage. For example, depleting a major aquifer will lead to decreased irrigation levels which leads to an economic decline that causes roads to be torn up and emissions to be reduced do the the fact that fewer people can afford stuff made in factories.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"