Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Investigating critical thickness of sea ice

Canterbury researchers investigating critical thickness of sea ice

April 1, 2014

University of Canterbury researchers are investigating key factors into the state of the climate system by assessing sea ice thickness in the Southern Ocean.

University postgraduate student Daniel Price is investigating the thickness of the sea ice in the Antarctic which is a key part of the Earth’s climate system.

Sea ice forms in the polar oceans where low air temperatures permit the ocean surface to reach its freezing temperature of around -1.9C.

The polar regions are vital components of the global climate system as drivers and indicators of change. It is highly reflective and immediately sends the majority of sunlight back into space, Price says.

``If it were not there, that energy would be absorbed by the ocean. In the Arctic, the sea ice’s minimum extent has decreased by 12 percent per decade since the late 1970s.

`` Contrary to the Arctic, the Antarctic sea ice extent has undergone a slight increase. This is a paradox in a warming world and a topic of intense scientific debate. Currently two main possible explanations exist.

``The first describes a process by which melt water from glaciers on the Antarctic continent is increasing in the Southern Ocean due to warming, decreasing salinity and making it easier for sea ice to form. The second is related to changing wind patterns around Antarctica as the ozone hole slowly repairs itself.

``The climate system is complex and the fact that sea ice has slightly increased in the Antarctic is certainly not evidence against human-driven climate change.

``In the Southern Ocean sea ice grows and then melts almost completely away every year. At its annual maximum extent in September, around the Antarctic continent, it covers an area of 19 million square kilometre, slightly larger than Russia.

``Though the size of the sea ice area is well documented, its thickness in the Southern Ocean is not. Given the vast area which needs to be investigated satellites offer an opportunity.

``Using radars and lasers on board NASA and European Space Agency satellites, orbiting the Earth 700 kilometres above the surface, we are able to indirectly estimate the thickness from the bit of ice that sticks out above the surface of the ocean.

``These satellites are capable of measuring to centimetre accuracy. The development and improvement of these techniques is my topic of research here at the University of Canterbury.

``Changes to sea ice may be influential on weather patterns in the Southern Ocean and therefore on New Zealand. It is thought that recent disruptive weather events in Europe and North America could be linked to sea ice decline in the Arctic.’’

The assessment of sea ice thickness in the Southern Ocean on a large scale is an international environmental science priority as indicated in the major Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes Report.

University of Canterbury’s Gateway Antarctica forms a small component of this international effort involving collaborators at NASA, Alfred Wegner Institute, Germany, York University and the University of Alberta, Canada and the University of Otago.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Maritime: Navigation Safety Review Raises Big Issues For The Govt

Shipping Federation: "The reports makes it clear that the ratification of the Maritime Labour convention (MLC) is long overdue. Only when the MLC is ratified will Maritime NZ be able to inspect and enforce the labour conditions on international ships visiting our ports." More>>

ALSO:

100 Years After Einstein Prediction: Gravitational Waves Found

For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos. More>>

ALSO:

Farming: Alliance Plans To Start Docking Farmer Payments

Alliance Group, New Zealand's second-largest meat cooperative, plans to start withholding some stock payments to its farmers from next week to bolster its balance sheet and force suppliers to meet their share requirements. More>>

ALSO:

Gambling: SkyCity First Half Profit Rises 30%, Helped By High Rollers

SkyCity anticipates the Auckland business will benefit from government gaming concessions which were triggered on Nov. 11 in recognition of SkyCity’s $470 million Convention Centre development. Morrison said the concessions would allow the Auckland business to lift its activity during peak period, noting it had a record revenue week over the Christmas and New Year period. More>>

ALSO:

Money For Light: Kiwi Scientists Secure Preferential Access To Synchrotron

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced a three-year investment of $2.8 million in the Australian Synchrotron, the largest piece of scientific infrastructure in the Southern Hemisphere, to secure preferential access for Kiwi scientists. More>>

Telco Industry Report: Investment Hits $1.7 Bln A Year

Investment in the telecommunications sector is $1.7 billion a year, proportionately one of the highest levels in the OECD, according to a report released today on the status of the New Zealand sector. More>>

ALSO:

PGPs: New Programme Sets Sights On Strong Wool

A new collaboration between The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), announced today, aims to deliver premiums for New Zealand's strong wool sector... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news