The media has failed to ask the big question. What were the
expeditioners scientists tourists doing down there. In their own words, my bolding: SpiritofMawson.com.
[…] However there is an increasing body of evidence, including by the AAE members, that have identified parts of the East Antarctic which are highly susceptible to melting and collapse from ocean warming.
If only. It should read, ‘freezing and growing from ocean cooling’. Now it can’t melt fast enough.
The surrounding Southern Ocean has an enormous influence on Antarctica, isolating the continent from the rest of the planet. This vast expanse of water is home to the largest ocean current in the world: the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The size of this current is prodigious, transporting around a million cubic metres of seawater every second. This current plays a crucial role linking the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans, while also acting as one of the great heat and carbon sinks for the atmosphere. Importantly, some 70% of all wind energy going into the world’s oceans enters through the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Most of the energy comes from the southern hemisphere westerly wind belt – the colourfully named ‘roaring forties’, ‘furious forties’ and ‘screaming sixties’.
It was the Easterlies that built up the ice block that stranded them, keeping them stuck.
Over the last 40 years or so, this wind belt has been shifting south, and as a result caused massive disruption to the circulation of the Southern Ocean and climate of the region. The impacts over the next century are likely to be some of the most significant anywhere on our planet and could have global consequences. The effects of this marked shift in westerly winds are already being seen today, triggering warm and salty water to be drawn up from the deep ocean, melting large sections of the Antarctic ice sheet with unknown consequences for future sea level rise while the ability of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to soak up heat and carbon from the atmosphere remains deeply uncertain.
Believed their own propaganda, heh.
Image credit: Ben Maddison
The little explored subantarctic islands in the Southern Ocean have experienced some of the most significant warming. The response of the rich biodiversity in the region to change remains a major area of research, particularly because many of the plants and animals found on and around the islands are subject to numerous pressures. The region is a complex and finely balanced system, with some of the islands still recovering from industrial-scale hunting of whales, seals and penguins. Add climate change into the mixture and the future remains difficult to predict.
Add propaganda to the mix and the future is always difficult to predict …
A key problem for reducing the uncertainty in climate projections is historical records of change are often too short to test the skill of climate models, raising concerns over our ability to successfully plan for the future. In this regard, the original AAE observations are a crucial dataset, providing an invaluable baseline against which to compare. However, large gaps in our knowledge of past change in the region remain. Fortunately, a wealth of natural archives – such as recorded by trees, peats and lake sediments – provide an opportunity to bridge the gap between modern observations and the recent geological past. Previous work has shown that large-scale shifts have taken place in the past. The causes remain unknown. When and where these tipping points may be reached in the Antarctic continues to be an area of great uncertainty.
I guess they reached their tipping point, in Commonwealth Bay. Here it is, an area of great uncertainty:
Soon to be:
In November 2007, the Linblad Explorer hit sea ice and sank.