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Update: Expanding Antarctic Sea Ice Linked to Long-Term Climate Cycle

Jul 08, 2016 03:06 AM EDT
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The bewildering Antarctic sea ice growth that doesn't fall in line with climate change projections can be explained by climate fluctuation and a long-term Pacific climate cycle, experts say.

A study conducted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and published in Nature Geoscience suggests that the growing Antarctic sea ice is due to a long-term climate fluctuation or cycle.

The study will help solve the mystery as to why the sea ice is expanding despite global warming due to climate change. The Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation is in its negative phase based on the study.  The evidence was gathered from NASA's satellite images on the Antarctic in 2014. 

"Compared to the Arctic, global warming causes only weak Antarctic sea ice loss, which is why the IPO can have such a striking effect in the Antarctic," Cecilia Bitz, University of Washington professor of atmospheric sciences who studies sea ice said in a statement. "There is no comparable natural variability in the Arctic that competes with global warming," Bitz added.

Based on satellite images, the sea ice around Antarctica has been increasing since 1979 but the growth accelerated between the period of 2004 to 2014.

Researchers say that in order to understand the "mystery" of the expanding ice sheet, one must take into considerations the many different factors occurring at the same time and not focus on one single factor.

"The climate we experience during any given decade is some combination of naturally occurring variability and the planet's response to increasing greenhouse gases," NCAR scientist Gerald Meehl and lead author of the study said in a statement published by Eurekalert. "It's never all one or the other, but the combination, that is important to understand," Meehl added.

But despite this finding, researchers are still trying to further understand why the seeming opposing changes occur. Contradicting studies also abound. 

"Our models are improving, but they're far from perfect. One by one, scientists are figuring out that particular variables are more important than we thought years ago, and one by one those variables are getting incorporated into the models," Claire Parkinson, a senior scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said in an interview with NewsMax.

Experts recognize the fact that their own individual methods may not be perfect and there are more factors and elements that needed fine-tuning to arrive at a non-debatable answer to the mystery of the expanding Antarctic ice sheets.


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