NASA published a new study on ice differences that appear in the North Pole as opposed to the South Pole. The ice in the Arctic Ocean is slowly melting while Antarctica’s sea of ice has been increasing.
Scientists analyzed data such as the temperature of the sea surface, land forms and ocean depth hoping to find the reasons for which one of the poles is melting, and the other was frosting. The factors involved seemed to be strictly geological.
The Antarctic sea is predominated by seasonal sea. The maximum width of this ice is reached in September, and the ice retracts in February. Scientific observations made starting from the 1970s have shown that local particularities do exist.
The range of hypothesis as to the determining factors for this ice preservation has gone from questioning the effects of the ozone hole, to the power of local winds. It had also been suggested that the less salty water could inhibit melting.
Up until now, no one succeeded in figuring out what is protecting the Antarctic ice. But a new team of scientists tried another approach and started to question what happened in 2008 when Antarctica revealed the most intensive activity in ice formation.
Their analysis of radar data showed that an older and thicker band of ice is surrounding the newer ice formed during the growth season. This band prevents ice from being altered by winds and waves.
The scientists then wanted to find out how Antarctica is preserving its ice band. After carefully observing radar images and comparing temperatures, they discovered that the behavior of ice is correlated to ocean currents that are on their own driven by seafloor features.
Thus, on the west coast, the smooth seafloor creates softer currents, which bring greater variations in ice formations. On the east coast, the seafloor is rougher, the currents are stronger, and the ice limits are more stable than those on the west coast.
Therefore, scientists discovered that, in fact, Antarctica’s topography and the depth of the Antarctic sea both are involved in the forming of the ice covering. This discovery may help to understand better why the Arctic region is going through such a rapid melting. But all the complex implications of these findings are yet to be discovered.
This study is an excellent example of the ways NASA analyses information received by using space technology. The agency shares this information gathered on a long-term basis freely to all institutions around the world that are interested in understanding Earth and preserving our planet.
Image Source: Youtube
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