Atmospheric River Attacks on West Antarctic and East Antarctic Ice Sheets, Ice Shelves, and Sea Ice

Atmospheric River Attacks on West Antarctic and East Antarctic Ice Sheets, Ice Shelves, and Sea Ice // Apr 21, 2022

In the previous video I chatted about how Atmospheric Rivers have directly contributed to the past collapses of both Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula.

In this video I perform a more detailed analysis on how these Atmospheric Rivers (ARs) are moving to higher and higher latitudes because of abrupt climate system change, and hitting both poles with more intense, higher water content, long duration, hotter rivers of air (1 to 3 km above sea level).

I discuss three fairly recent peer-reviewed papers. The first discusses the factors involved in causing the new record low sea ice extent around Antarctica, the second details Increases in AR impacts on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), and the third discusses overall AR consequences to the continent as a whole. Clearly, one of the big surprises to me is the number of rainfall events around the Antarctica coastline, and it is obvious that this cannot be good for Antarctic sea ice longevity.

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Shackleton, Sally, Mop
Newton (Sir Isaac)

Ref: Antarctic Sea Ice Hit a Record Low, Now Scientists Think They Know Why, By Chelsea Harvey, E&E News on April 20, 2022

Antarctic sea ice hit a stunning record-low minimum at the end of February, dropping below 772,000 square miles for the first time since satellites began observing the southern continent more than 40 years ago. * Now scientists say they’ve untangled the reasons why. * A study published yesterday in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences points to a perfect storm of factors that sent Antarctic sea ice spiraling downward in the past year. Some involve natural climate cycles—while others may be influenced by human-caused climate change.

An Unprecedented Record Low Antarctic Sea-ice Extent during Austral Summer 2022, Wang, Luo, Yang, Yu, Shi & Han, April 19, 2022

Abstract: Seasonal minimum Antarctic sea ice extent (SIE) in 2022 hit a new record low since recordkeeping began in 1978 of 1.9 million km2 on 25 February, 0.17 million km2 lower than the previous record low set in 2017. Significant negative anomalies in the Bellingshausen/Amundsen Seas, the Weddell Sea, and the western Indian Ocean sector led to the new record minimum. The sea ice budget analysis presented here shows that thermodynamic processes dominate sea ice loss in summer through enhanced poleward heat transport and albedo-temperature feedback. In spring, both dynamic and thermodynamic processes contribute to negative sea ice anomalies. Specifically, dynamic ice loss dominates in the Amundsen Sea as evidenced by sea ice thickness (SIT) change, while positive surface heat fluxes contribute most to sea ice melt in the Weddell Sea.

Atmospheric river of moisture will trigger storms and tornadoes this week, By Jennifer Gray, CNN meteorologist. Updated 5:05 PM ET, Mon April 11, 2022

You may have heard of atmospheric rivers impacting the West Coast. We had several notable ones this year that brought flooding, staggering snowfall amounts to the mountains in the west, and even landslides.


About paulbeckwith

Well known climate science educator; Part-time Geography professor (climatology, oceanography, environmental issues), University of Ottawa. Physicist. Engineer. Master's Degree in Science in Laser Optics, Bachelors of Engineering, in Engineering Physics. Won Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario gold medal. Also interested in investment and start-ups in climate solutions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Avid chess player, and likes restoring old homes. Married with children.
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