Welcome

Monitoring Antarctica

This page will monitor Antarctica which has the potential of being the single largest climate change mechanism within the biosphere of earth.

Background – Antarctica is a little known or discussed continent. But when it comes to locations that have the most interaction with solar and cosmic events, it is the only continental land mass with direct connections to the magnetic fields weakest points. The Arctic has no land mass, and the ocean and ice absorbs more energy before the remainder is imparted into the global electric circuit through the subsurface ocean floor. With Antarctica being a sea ice bound land mass with extensive glaciation, the energy routed to the poles has a extensive land mass to impart the electrons, protons and HZE’s too.

Why Antarctica – Antarctica stores 90% of the world’s ice (29 million cubic kilometers) and approximately 80% of its fresh water, is locked up in the Antarctic ice sheet. If all the ice were to melt, the level of the world’s oceans would rise by nearly 60 m and create a massive influx of fresh water into the oceans. It is believed that due to the weakening magnetic field that more energy is being imparted into the landmass and thereby increasing the amount of geothermal or volcanic changes are occurring. Ice melt is fluctuating extensively around these volcanic fields, but little of the bulk ice sheet is changing.

Without the its ice, Antarctica may be the lowest lying continent and only about 0.4% of Antarctica is not covered by ice. Antarctica has the greatest known depression of bedrock, the Byrd Subglacial Basin lies at 2,538 m below sea level and a many lakes occur in inland ice free areas, some with water over 13 times more saline than sea water and freezing points as low as −18ºC (seawater normally freezes at −1.8ºC). Some lakes are warm with temperatures near the bottom as high as 35ºC. This highly saline water cannot make it too the ocean if the glaciers melt, as it all resides below sea level.

Implications of Antarctica glacial ice melt – Ocean currents have been a constant for most of our modern history with only a few times where they have shifted and created new weather patterns. If Antarctica continues to show signs of glacial ice melting off the mainland, this can create a enormous change to the ocean salinity and currents. The ocean currents move water of different temperatures and salinity around the world in a largely constant pattern.

What is known as the Ocean Conveyer Belt can potentially shut down which would stop the mixing of colder currents being Black and Blue with the warmer being in Red. This shutdown would change the climate and all weather patterns on the planet with many areas going into a permanent drought and others into almost permanent flood, and conversely temperatures and temperature zones would change extensively as they are largely driven by the ocean circulation.

As you can see in he diagram shown below the Conveyer Belt centers around Antarctica but impacts all major oceans though the major deep and shallow currents.

Thermohaline Circulation Pattern

Thermohaline circulation is a global ocean circulation pattern that distributes water and heat both vertically, through the water column, and horizontally across the globe. As cold, salty water sinks at high latitudes, it pulls warmer water from lower latitudes to replace it. Water that sinks in the North Atlantic flows down to the southern hemisphere, skirts the Antarctic continent, where it is joined by more sinking water, and then crosses south of the Indian Ocean to enter the Pacific Ocean basin. There, the cold deep water rises to the surface, where heat from the tropical sun warms the water at the ocean’s surface and drives evaporation, leaving behind saltier water. This warm, salty water flows northward to join the Gulf Stream, traveling up the Eastern coast of the United States and across the Atlantic Ocean into the North Atlantic region. There, heat is released to the atmosphere, warming parts of Western Europe. Once this warm, salty water reaches the North Atlantic and releases its heat, it again becomes very cold and dense, and sinks to the deep ocean.

History and Forecast all show cooling

THE EARTH INSTITUTE AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Rapid Desalination and Abrupt Climate Change

One potential concern in our near future is the rapid desalination of the oceans through large parts of Antarctica’s glacial ice melting which will change all these currents as they all are reliant upon a very specific mix of salt and fresh water in a fine balance. Our current climate as we know it is an aberration in the total timeline as we know it on this planet. More time over all is spent in ice age than in the interglacial warm period as we have now.

The term abrupt climate change describes changes in climate that occur over the span of years to decades, compared to the so called human-caused changes in climate that are occurring over the time span of decades to centuries. From ice cores, ocean sediments, tree rings, and other records of Earth’s past climate, scientists have found that changes in climate have occurred quickly in the past—over the course of a decade. An example of an abrupt climate change event is the Younger Dryas (~12,000 years ago), a period of abrupt cooling that interrupted a general warming trend as Earth emerged from the last Ice Age. During the Younger Dryas period, average summertime temperatures in New England cooled by about 5-7°F (3-4°C). This and other abrupt events have been linked to changes in an ocean circulation pattern known as thermohaline circulation.

Atmospheric Monitoring

The following charts show the polar atmospheric conditions for the winter period, as this is the key to any long term ice changes, apart from where volcanic activity increases are melting localized regions of glacial and sea ice.

Current Polar Vortex – Thanks to earth.nullschool.net

Use this link to view the current Antarctic Polar Vortex: This shows the 10hpa level over Antarctica with the vortex running in a clockwise direction.

https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/10hPa/orthographic=-206.04,-94.36,364

Polar Vortex Timeseries Charts – These charts show the scale and temperature range in various layers of the stratosphere, all timeseries charts have a description of the Min to Max plus a mean.

These are all live streamed from NOAA.

Time series of the size of the S.H. polar vortex at 450K.
Air parcels move on isentropic surfaces (surfaces of equal potential temperature) rather than pressure surfaces. The 450 K surface in the south polar area lies between the 70 mb and 50 mb pressure surfaces. This is near the altitude where ozone is in greatest abundance in the vertical profile. This figure shows the size of the polar vortex with respect to previous years. The polar vortex defines the area in which cold polar air is trapped by the very strong winds of the Polar Night Jet. During the winter/spring period, when the polar vortex is strongest, air outside of the vortex can not enter. So, because the warm air from the mid latitudes can not mix with the cold polar air, the polar air continues to get colder due to radiative loss of heat. Also, when ozone in the vortex is depleted, it is not replenished with ozone rich air from outside the vortex. Not until mid to late Spring does the polar vortex weaken and eventually break down. After this, thorough mixing occurs and ozone amounts are replenished.

Time series of the size of the S.H. polar vortex at 550K. surfaces. The 550 K surface in the south polar area lies between the 50 mb and 30 mb pressure surfaces. This is near or slightly above the altitude where ozone is in greatest abundance in the vertical profile. See the Vortex area at 450 K for more information.

Time series of the size of the S.H. polar vortex at 650K. surfaces. The 650 K surface in the south polar area lies between the 30 mb and 20 mb pressure surfaces. This is above the altitude where ozone is in greatest abundance in the vertical profile. See the Vortex area at 450 K for more information.

Time series of the size of the air colder than -78C (PSC-1) at 450K. This figure shows the area within the polar vortex that has temperatures low enough to form Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSCs). The ice crystals that make up these PSCs are where heterogeneous photo-chemical destruction of ozone take place. So as the area of low temperatures becomes larger, there is greater likelihood of PSCs forming. When this area becomes sunlit, enhanced ozone destruction takes place.

South Poleward eddy heat flux at 100mb. This time series shows the 10 day averaged eddy heat flux towards the South Pole at 100mb. Strong negative fluxes indicate poleward flux of heat via eddies. Multiple strong poleward episodes will result in a smaller polar vortex and an earlier transition from winter to summer circulations. Relatively small flux amplitudes will result in a more stable polar vortex and will extend the winter circulation well into November and December.

Southern Hemisphere Total Ozone Analyses
These maps shows the most recent analysis of the Southern Hemisphere total ozone from the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) instrument on board the S-NPP and NOAA JPSS polar orbiting satellites. In austral spring the analyses show the “ozone hole” (values below 220 Dobson Units)over Antarctica and the Antarctic Ocean. This area of low ozone is confined by the polar vortex. Usually circular in August and September, the vortex tends to elongate in October, stretching towards inhabited areas of South America. By November, the polar vortex begins to weaken and ozone rich air begins to mix with the air in the “ozone hole” region. The “ozone hole” is usually gone by late November/early December.

The OMPS instruments can not make observations in the polar night region because they relies upon backscattered sun light. The blank area centered over the pole represents the latitudes in which no observations can be made.

Ozone Hole Size
This figure shows the progress of the size of the ozone hole in comparison to other years. 

Data From Japans JMA

Time-series representation of temperatures at the 10-hPa level over the South Pole
The black line shows daily temperatures, and the gray line indicates the normal (i.e., the 1981 – 2010 average).

Time-series representation of temperatures at the 30-hPa level over the South Pole
The black line shows daily temperatures, and the gray line indicates the normal (i.e., the 1981 – 2010 average). This is streamed from JMA

10-hPa temperature change in a week in the Southern Hemisphere
The contour interval is 5 °C. The pink and light blue shadings indicate warming and cooling, respectively. The red shading denotes warming for values higher than 25 °C.

30-hPa temperature change in a week in the Southern Hemisphere
The contour interval is 5 °C. The pink and light blue shadings indicate warming and cooling, respectively. The red shading denotes warming for values higher than 25 °C.

Latitude-height cross section of zonal mean temperature in the Southern Hemisphere
The contour interval is 5 °C.

MSLP

Mean Sea Level Pressure Analysis is one of the most familiar images in the community. It is compiled from hundreds of weather observations (synoptic data) taken simultaneously around the Australian region including Antarctica.

This data is updated regularly but is not in a presentable HTML format so the PDF link below is available to see the current MSLP map. http://www.bom.gov.au/fwo/IDY65100.pdf

Ice Conditions

Antarctic glacial and sea ice are monitored from satellites for more than 99% of the data as conditions year round in Antarctica prevent many monitoring stations from operating successfully year round.

Antarctic Sea Ice Extent – This is live from NASA Cryospheric Sciences. 10-year averages between 1979 and 2018 and yearly averages for 2012, 2014, and 2021 of the daily (a) ice extent and (b) ice area in the Southern Hemisphere and a listing of the extent and area of the current, historical mean, minimum, and maximum values in km2.

The Colour-coded map of the daily sea ice concentration in the Southern Hemisphere for the indicated recent date along with the contours of the 15% edge during the years with the least extent of ice (in red) and the greatest extent of ice (in yellow) during the period from November 1978 to the present. The extents in km2 for the current and for the years of minimum and maximum extents are provided below the image. The different shades of gray over land indicate the land elevation with the lightest gray being the highest elevation.

Seasonal cycle of Southern Hemisphere sea ice extents (a) and areas (b), given as daily averages, for the years 2010 through 2021. The vertical line represents the last data point plotted.

Color-coded animation displaying the last 2 weeks of the daily sea ice concentrations in the Southern Hemisphere. These images use data from the AMSR-E/AMSR2 Unified Level-3 12.5 km product. The different shades of gray over land indicate the land elevation with the lightest gray being the highest elevation.

NSIDC Data