Hot Times in Antarctica

From the “I told you Angry Penguins were the new icon” department

From Time

Adelie penguin, Antarctic Peninsula, courtesy Oscar Schofield

The world’s polar regions are warming up faster than the global average, but the western edge of the Antarctic Peninsula is especially steamy. Over the past 50 years, winter temperatures have shot up by an almost unbelievable 6°C—more than five times the global average, according to a paper just published in Science.

The new study, part of a special report on oceans and climate, focuses on the Antarctic Peninsula not only because it represents an extreme, but because it gives scientists a chance to look at a marine ecosystem under rapid climate change (the other polar hotspots, in Siberia and western North America, are well inland).

Rapidly rising temperatures—mostly driven by warmer ocean currents–have transformed the West Antarctic Peninsula’s landscape. The massive ice shelves that sit just offshore at the peninsula’s southern end have begun collapsing en masse . Overall, say the authors, 87% of the region’s glaciers are in retreat, the ice season has shortened by 90 days and, they write ominously, “These changes are accelerating.”

That being the case, it’s not surprising that the creatures who live here are under enormous stress. Adélie penguin populations, which need ice and cold weather to survive, have plummeted by 90% in the northern part of the peninsula over the past three decades, says lead author Oscar Schofield, a marine scientist at Rutgers University, while chinstrap penguins, which prefer more temperate climates, have increased. “The penguin populations near Palmer Station [the largest U.S. base in that part of the continent] have flipflopped,” says Schofield. “The area will probably be completely devoid of Adélies in five or ten years.”

Read the rest here

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Doug in Seattle

Right, and the growth of sea ice around the continent is also due to warming in the winter.

bubbagyro

Amazing.
The penguins left because it was way too hot! Went from -65°C to -60°C. What an intolerable hot spell!

Sean Peake

Oh dear…

terry46

Now get this .Over the past 50 years the temperature has shot up by almost 6 degrees.How is this possible you may ask.There are no people,no homes ,no roads no car trucks or the awful suv’s that ruin our planet.But here on earth the temperature has hardly changed at all.Yet all we hear is were killing the enviroment it all our fault everything that happens that is bad is due to us.The only conclusion can be that underwater volcanos are causing any temperature change in the Antarctica.

Is it time to panic?
What’s really happening.
And it should be pointed out how small the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is. The WAIS is in red, and it’s warming not because of the climate, but because it is over a geologic hot spot.
Other than that, fine article.☺

jakers

I see the Antarctic sea ice has gone just outside the 2 stnd deviations. http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/S_stddev_timeseries.png
And, it looks to be greater than average most places except the peninsula http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/S_daily_extent_hires.png

JinOH

Mother nature is brutal, apparently.

Pamela Gray

“Adélie penguin populations, which need ice and cold weather to survive, have plummeted by 90% in the northern part of the peninsula over the past three decades, says lead author Oscar Schofield, a marine scientist at Rutgers University, while chinstrap penguins, which prefer more temperate climates, have increased. ‘The penguin populations near Palmer Station [the largest U.S. base in that part of the continent] have flipflopped,’ says Schofield. ”
This is dripping with irony. Oscillations anyone? Salmon records (which also demonstrated flipflopping) recorded by fisherman from Alaska to the tip of California revealed a new understanding of oceanic system. What was discovered was the PDO.

mpaul

I imagine this comes from only a single station. Anyone know which one?

nil

Does it mean real estate in antarctica are going to skyrocket?

“I see the Antarctic sea ice has gone just outside the 2 stnd deviations. ”
And that means it’ll drag the average up and we can all be alarmed about ever smaller drops when the occur in the future. 🙂

DonS

It’s worse than we thought. Send more money, we need to keep a ship on station 24-7.

John Peter

Not sure how to interpret this graph: http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/S_timeseries.png which shows at least sea ice well above the 1979 average and this one: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.recent.antarctic.png showing a positive anomaly of 1.125 million sq. km.
Maybe global warming is causing an increase in the sea ice but I cannot understand why like Hansen, Mann et. all. they are focusing on “Rapidly rising temperatures—mostly driven by warmer ocean currents–have transformed the West Antarctic Peninsula’s landscape.”
Yes, the West Antarctic Peninsula. I would have thought that warmer ocean currents would have diminished sea ice rather increasing same as the charts quoted above would suggest. As a layman I get more and more confused. I have read somewhere else that the increased Antarctic sea ice is caused by cold currents and wind and now they claim it is the opposite causing more sea ice. Help.

jakers

Smokey says:
June 18, 2010 at 10:48 am
The WAIS is… warming not because of the climate, but because it is over a geologic hot spot.
Uh, no…

Dirtscience

I can see the penguins from “Madagascar” (the movie) coming down the power plant access road now. They’re armed and dangerous! Do you think the greens are going to blame coal plants for the Antarctic peninsula warming? Just how many coal plants are there in the southern hemisphere?
I’ve not seen it brought up much, but just how detrimental an effect do icebreakers have on changing the albedo in the arctic and antarctic waters when they are blowing paths in the solid ice cover? Maybe we should start blaming icebreaker research vessels on endangering narwals and beluga’s by stranding them too far from open waters as they follow the openings deep beyond the ice edge.

In other penguin related news….penguins are freezing to death in Namibia.

paulo arruda

Steve,
read
http://antartica.cptec.inpe.br/ in NEWS
The last three years has been cold at Station Comandante Ferraz Antarctic peninsula.

PeterB in Indianapolis

Hey Jakers,
Care to present your evidence that the WAIS is not currently over a geologic hotspot? I know you are a major expert on the subject of the Antarctic and Geological Hotspots, but I personally need a bit more than just “Uhhhh, no” to go on before I believe you. Sorry.

RockyRoad

jakers says:
June 18, 2010 at 10:59 am
Smokey says:
June 18, 2010 at 10:48 am
The WAIS is… warming not because of the climate, but because it is over a geologic hot spot.
Uh, no…
———–Reply
So you’re saying this global warming thing isn’t… um…. global?

paulo arruda

…..Over the past 14 years the annual average air temperatures recorded at Station
Comm Ferraz Brazilian Antarctic showed a declining trend, about -0.6 º C / decade….

Zeke

“Adélie penguin populations, which need ice and cold weather to survive…”
And all the krill they eat helps too.

Enneagram

Funny, but other populations of superior mammals will emigrate from their usual places of living if mad green policies are applied.

PeterB in Indianapolis

Ok, Jakers (and everyone else), now that I am ready to take at least a 10-second break from being flippant, you might want to read this, by the way:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080229183818.htm

PeterB in Indianapolis

Oh, maybe this one too:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080120160720.htm
Yeah, definitely no geological hotspot around there…

Penguins are passe. Clams are the new penguins.

CRS, Dr.P.H.

Bah! It’s just as likely that the penguins are being impacted by the huge amount of industrial trawling going on around Antarctica:
http://www.grist.org/article/overfishing-antarctic-krill
The Chinese, Russians, Koreans etc. treat Antarctic krill as if it were a gift that keeps giving, and they are scraping the oceans clean of anything that swims. An inconvenient truth for ya!
However, if it is trendy to blame global warming, well, then, who doesn’t want to be trendy?

Enneagram

After signing the Unesco’s Santa Cruz Declaration….:
Galapagos will have a special prosecutor to investigate environmental crimes
http://www.latercera.com/contenido/739_269246_9.shtml

Lance

jakers says:
June 18, 2010 at 10:48 am
I see the Antarctic sea ice has gone just outside the 2 stnd deviations.
Houston, we have found the missing Arctic Ice…

Martin Brumby

Penguins??
What about Variola Major and Variola Minor?
Wiped out! Deliberately! Extinct!
Is there no end to the wickedness of Mankind (or should that be Personkind?)
Send more grant money, quickly!

Green Sand

The old chestnut comes to mind:-
“I have told you a million times not to exaggerate”

Jimbo

This is terrible news about Antarctic ice; it’s much, much worse than we thought. :o(

NSIDC – 3 March, 2010
Sea ice extent in the Antarctic has been unusually high in recent years, both in summer and winter. Overall, the Antarctic is showing small positive trends in total extent. For example, the trend in February extent is now +3.1% per decade. However, the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas show a strong negative trend in extent. These overall positive trends may seem counterintuitive in light of what is happening in the Arctic. Our Frequently Asked Questions section briefly explains the general differences between the two polar environments. A recent report (Turner, et. al., 2009) suggests that the ozone hole has resulted in changes in atmospheric circulation leading to cooling and increasing sea ice extents over much of the Antarctic region.

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/index.html
It get even worse, much, much to much worse than we could ever have believed!!!
http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.recent.antarctic.png
http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/S_stddev_timeseries.png

Jimbo

Cherrypicking season has arrived!!! They talk of Antarctic Peninsula I say look at the whole of Antarctica. Global ice hasn’t changed much in donkey’s years either.

Ray

Adélie penguin sushi must be pretty good! It must taste like chicken too!!!

Murray Duffin
David S

Wow, help! At this rate, by 2300 Antarctic sea ice will cover the world’s entire ocean surface. Time to panic.

P Walker

No offence to any alums , but what is it with Rutgers anyway ?

JimB

I was at the tip of the WAIS in February. We spoke with locals in Port Stanley, Falklands, before heading down to Elephant Island and Paradise Bay. First, the residents of Port Stanley said the penguins there have been doing great, with slight population increases at all the rookeries.
Cruising down through the Gerlache and over the next several days, we saw many chinstraps and gentoos…all happy campers.
As for albedo, there is significant concern, and once again, the law of unintended consequences strikes. After 2011, ships carrying more than 500 passengers will not be allowed to cruise to Antarctica. The ship we were on carried 2200 passengers, and used gas turbines to power the ship at speeds up to 22knots. There were no “shore excursions” as those are allowed on ships carrying more than 900 passengers. So 2011 is the last year the big ships will get down there.
So instead, people will cruise down there on russian ice breakers and other smaller vessels. Our friend is going down in November. The small ice breaker he’ll be on will be making helicopter flights to the “mainland” and is also equipped with several zodiacs for shore excursions as well.
My bet is that the small icebreaker will PROBABLY have more of an impact than our large cruise ship did, and certainly had more impact per person than we did.
JimB

latitude

I thought things like ice, climate, etc had something called natural variability.
Where do they get that “average” line from anyway?
None of it really matters, we’re not smart enough to do anything about it one way or the other.

RHS

Could it be weather and air masses are changing where they appear?
It’s too hot in the Antarctic but too cold in Africa?
http://www.iceagenow.com/Cold_weather_kills_500_penguins_in_Cape_Town.htm
What an upside down world…

D. King

“The area will probably be completely devoid of Adélies in five or ten years.”
Perhaps this is the problem?
http://tinyurl.com/242fl62

timetochooseagain

A lot of people seem to be missing a key point, which is sadly because the reporter chose not to put much emphasis on it: Even though it is an article about a large change in climate, and about it’s “negative effects”, they are actually NOT blaming AGW!
The warming is “mostly driven by warmer ocean currents”-last time I checked, Ocean Heat Transport was a natural phenomena, and there is no obvious reason to attribute a recent shift in ocean current behavior in a small part of the global to climate forcing by well mixed greenhouse gases.
The reality is that the behavior of the Peninsula is quite anomalous, there is simply no way that the forcing from CO2 etc could cause-or would cause-such an extremely localized and large warming.

Jimbo
Bruce Cobb

Not to worry. Penguins are tough old birds, having been around for 50 million or more years. They’ve seen many, many climate changes, and far warmer ones at that.
So have polar bears of course. But, this faux concern for the “endangered” species for them is of course just a pretext, useful for swaying people’s emotions.
“the changes going on in the Antarctic may well be a preview for what’s on the way, in a rough sense, for the rest of the world’s marine ecosystems.”
Since there aren’t any real changes in the Antarctic besides in the West Antarctic Peninsula, which is just a tiny portion of it, then yes, that (i.e. climate stasis) could well be a harbinger of things to come closer to home. But we’re actually more likely to see cooling in the coming decades.

Jimbo

I still don’t understand what the warming Antarctic peninsula has to do with man-made global warming? They found warm currents affecting temps there, so what? Please someone help me to understand because I must be missing something.

Enneagram

Lie, lie….
Cold weather kills 500 penguins in Cape Town
http://www.iceagenow.com/Cold_weather_kills_500_penguins_in_Cape_Town.htm

jakers

Shub Niggurath says:
June 18, 2010 at 10:55 am
And that means it’ll drag the average up and we can all be alarmed about ever smaller drops when the occur in the future. 🙂
That’s measured against the 1979-2000 average, so no.

Dave Wendt

Regarding the notion that warming in the West Antarctic Peninsula is driven by warm currents. I am definitely not an expert in this area, but from what I’ve read the dominant current at work down there is the Antarctic CIRCUMPOLAR Current. By most reports it is the largest and fastest surface current on the planet. Any descending warm currents from the tropical Pacific would be intersected at its northern limit, called the Subtropical Front, then pass through two further transitions in the ACC, the Subantarctic Front and the Polar Front
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Antarctic_Circumpolar_Current.jpg
to get to the coast of Antarctica. Although the WAP is the tightest choke point on the ACC, it doesn’t seem entirely logical that warmth sufficient to account for the temperature changes supposedly observed there would be dissipated in that relatively small area and completely disappear just east of the WAP.
BTW, in doing a quick Google to check my recollections on this, I came across this blurb about a study that seems to suggest that intensification of the ACC may be responsible for increased release of CO2 from abyssal upwellling.
http://sify.com/news/rise-in-greenhouse-gases-linked-to-changes-in-ocean-currents-news-international-kgsn4dbbhjf.html
I haven’t had time to search out the paper, but it could indicate another aspect of the “settled science” which has been left out of the calculation.

jakers