The Antarctic Ocean absorbs much of the planet’s heat


Over the past fifty years, the Antarctic Ocean has absorbed most of the excess heat that remains trapped in the atmosphere, mitigating the effects of the climate crisis, albeit at a very high cost to ecosystems. , academic sources report this Thursday.

The oceans have contributed for 50 years to reduce the effects of global warming because they absorb 40% of the planet’s carbon dioxide emissions, as well as 90% of the excess heat trapped in the atmosphere. At this stage, “the Southern Ocean dominates the capture of heat from the oceans, partly because of the geographical configuration of the region”Study author Maurice Huguenin said in a statement from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) yesterday.


The effect of westerly winds on the Southern Ocean

One reason is that strong westerly winds blowing over Antarctica cause cold waters to move towards the surface and push them north, where they absorb large amounts of heat from the atmosphere before sinking into the the sea depths near the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

But the study, published the day before in the scientific journal Nature Communication, warns that this warming of the waters is already very expensive for humanity since it will take thousands of years for the heat trapped in its marine depths to be returned to the Earth’s atmosphere.

“Sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting, ecosystems are under heat stress and increases the frequency of extreme weather events”The study’s co-author, UNSW academic Matthew England, recalled in the statement, referring to the impact of warming oceans.

melting sea ice

“Scientists also predict that despite the fact that the Antarctic Ocean represents 15% of the ocean mass, its warming will produce alterations in the food web of this region, as well as the melting of the Antarctic ice shelves, among other facts that will reverberate around the world”.

What worries the scientists of this study, which analyzes the role of the oceans in the absorption of heat over the past 50 years through models, is that the most optimistic scientific projections – with a global warming scenario of 1.5 degrees-, represent ocean warming.

Therefore, Huguenin warned that if the Antarctic Ocean “is still responsible for most of the heat capture until the year 2100, we could see how its heat increases up to seven times from what we have seen so far”.

Character font: EFE GREEN

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