Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ocean winds keep Antarctica cold, Australia dry

Date:
May 11, 2014
Source:
Australian National University
Summary:
New research has explained why Antarctica is not warming as much as other continents, and why southern Australia is recording more droughts. Researchers have found rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are strengthening the stormy Southern Ocean winds which deliver rain to southern Australia, but pushing them further south towards Antarctica.

Dr. Nerilie Abram is shown working on an ice core.
Credit: Paul Rogers

New Australian National University-led research has explained why Antarctica is not warming as much as other continents, and why southern Australia is recording more droughts.

Related Articles


Researchers have found rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are strengthening the stormy Southern Ocean winds which deliver rain to southern Australia, but pushing them further south towards Antarctica.

Lead researcher Nerilie Abram, from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences, said the findings explained the mystery over why Antarctica was not warming as much as the Arctic, and why Australia faces more droughts.

"With greenhouse warming, Antarctica is actually stealing more of Australia's rainfall. It's not good news -- as greenhouse gases continue to rise we'll get fewer storms chased up into Australia," Dr Abram said.

"As the westerly winds are getting tighter they're actually trapping more of the cold air over Antarctica," Abram said. "This is why Antarctica has bucked the trend. Every other continent is warming, and the Arctic is warming fastest of anywhere on earth."

While most of Antarctica is remaining cold, rapid increases in summer ice melt, glacier retreat and ice shelf collapses are being observed in Antarctic Peninsula, where the stronger winds passing through Drake Passage are making the climate warm exceptionally quickly.

Until this study, published in Nature Climate Change, Antarctic climate observations were available only from the middle of last century.

By analysing ice cores from Antarctica, along with data from tree rings and lakes in South America, Dr Abram and her colleagues were able to extend the history of the westerly winds back over the last millennium.

"The Southern Ocean winds are now stronger than at any other time in the past 1,000 years," Abram said.

"The strengthening of these winds has been particularly prominent over the past 70 years, and by combining our observations with climate models we can clearly link this to rising greenhouse gas levels."

Study co-authors Dr Robert Mulvaney and Professor Matthew England said the study answered key questions about climate change in Antarctica.

"Strengthening of these westerly winds helps us to explain why large parts of the Antarctic continent are not yet showing evidence of climate warming," said Dr Mulvaney, from the British Antarctic Survey.

"This new research suggests that climate models do a good job of capturing how the westerly winds respond to increasing greenhouse gases," added Professor England, from the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW.

"This isn't good news for farmers reliant on winter rainfall over the southern part of Australia."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Australian National University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nerilie J. Abram, Robert Mulvaney, Franηoise Vimeux, Steven J. Phipps, John Turner, Matthew H. England. Evolution of the Southern Annular Mode during the past millennium. Nature Climate Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2235

Cite This Page:

Australian National University. "Ocean winds keep Antarctica cold, Australia dry." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140511165515.htm>.
Australian National University. (2014, May 11). Ocean winds keep Antarctica cold, Australia dry. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140511165515.htm
Australian National University. "Ocean winds keep Antarctica cold, Australia dry." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140511165515.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) — Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
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