Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Summer melt season getting longer on Antarctic Peninsula

Date:
March 27, 2013
Source:
British Antarctic Survey
Summary:
New research from the Antarctic Peninsula shows that the summer melt season has been getting longer over the last 60 years. Increased summer melting has been linked to the rapid break-up of ice shelves in the area and rising sea level.

Penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Credit: Olma / Fotolia

New research from the Antarctic Peninsula shows that the summer melt season has been getting longer over the last 60 years. Increased summer melting has been linked to the rapid break-up of ice shelves in the area and rising sea level.

Related Articles


The Antarctic Peninsula -- a mountainous region extending northwards towards South America -- is warming much faster than the rest of Antarctica. Temperatures have risen by up to 3 oC since the 1950s -- three times more than the global average. This is a result of a strengthening of local westerly winds, causing warmer air from the sea to be pushed up and over the peninsula. In contrast to much of the rest of Antarctica, summer temperatures are high enough for snow to melt.

This summer melting may have important effects. Meltwater may enlarge cracks in floating ice shelves which can contribute to their retreat or collapse. As a result, the speed at which glaciers flow towards the sea will be increased. Also, melting and refreezing causes snow layers to become thinner and more dense, affecting the height of the snow surface above sea level. Scientists need to know this so they can interpret satellite data correctly.

Dr Nick Barrand, who carried out the research while working for the British Antarctic Survey, led an analysis of data from 30 weather stations on the peninsula. "We found a significant increase in the length of the melting season at most of the stations with the longest temperature records" he says. "At one station the average length of the melt season almost doubled between 1948 and 2011."

To build up a more complete picture across the whole peninsula, the team (funded by the European Union's ice2sea programme) also analysed satellite data collected by an instrument called a scatterometer. Using microwave reflections from the ice sheet surface, the scatterometer was able to detect the presence of meltwater. The team were able to produce maps of how the melt season varied from 1999 to 2009, and showed that several major ice shelf breakup events coincided with longer than usual melt seasons. This supports the theory that enlargement of cracks by meltwater is the main mechanism for ice shelf weakening and collapse.

The researchers also compared data from both the satellite and weather stations with the output of a state-of-the-art regional climate model.

Dr Barrand, who now works at the University of Birmingham, says, "We found that the model was very good at reproducing the pattern and timing of the melt, and changes in melting between years. This increases confidence in the use of climate models to predict future changes to snow and ice cover in the Antarctic Peninsula."

Trends in Antarctic Peninsula surface melting conditions from observations and regional climate modeling will be officially published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface this week.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by British Antarctic Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. N. E. Barrand, D. G. Vaughan, N. Steiner, M. Tedesco, P. Kuipers Munneke, M. R. van den Broeke, J. S. Hosking. Trends in Antarctic Peninsula surface melting conditions from observations and regional climate modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 2013; DOI: 10.1029/2012JF002559

Cite This Page:

British Antarctic Survey. "Summer melt season getting longer on Antarctic Peninsula." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327133707.htm>.
British Antarctic Survey. (2013, March 27). Summer melt season getting longer on Antarctic Peninsula. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327133707.htm
British Antarctic Survey. "Summer melt season getting longer on Antarctic Peninsula." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327133707.htm (accessed March 3, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solar Plane Passes New Test Ahead of World Tour

Solar Plane Passes New Test Ahead of World Tour

AFP (Mar. 2, 2015) A solar-powered plane made a third successful test flight in the United Arab Emirates on Monday ahead of a planned round-the-world tour to promote alternative energy. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heavy Toll as Australian Farmers Struggle Through Drought

Heavy Toll as Australian Farmers Struggle Through Drought

AFP (Mar. 2, 2015) Mounting debts, despair and forced repossessions are taking a heavy toll on farmers in parts of Australia suffering from its worst drought in 100 years. Duration: 02:16 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Doomsday' Vault Stores Tree Seeds In Case Of Armageddon

'Doomsday' Vault Stores Tree Seeds In Case Of Armageddon

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, also known as the "doomsday" vault, took its first contribution of tree seeds this week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chile on Alert as Volcano Spews Smoke and Ash

Chile on Alert as Volcano Spews Smoke and Ash

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 2, 2015) Chile&apos;s massive Villarrica volcano remains on yellow alert as it belches out incandescent fragments at night with nearby communities placed on alert. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins