A chilling new video of Antarctica’s future has been created, and I’m not just saying that for the sake of the cheap pun. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has recently released the short clip which their experts produced with the assistance of climate scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the UK’s University of Bristol. It includes three different computer-generated simulations of how Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea Embayment — a bay currently lined with glaciers — is expected to melt over roughly the next 200 years.
The most primitive simulation only captured the collapse of the glaciers and doesn’t really pattern how the ice will melt before 2100, even though space satellites have already detected the melt in our own time. The two more advanced simulations do actually follow the pattern of how the ice flows and melts upstream, and they match the ice loss we’ve already seen.
NASA recently released a report showing that the Arctic is already turning green, with warmer climate zones having marched noticeably northward in only the last 30 years. Earlier studies have concluded that the polar ice caps started to melt down at some point in the 1990s.
Other studies have pointed to contradictory effects of global climate change in the Antarctic, even a possible area where the ice might actually grow.
That offers some hope to the emperor penguin, the only animal adapted to breed in the frigid cold of an Antarctic winter. In that species, special feathers provide an outer layer of insulation that protects their core, allowing them to take advantage of the incredibly cold conditions to breed without interference from any predators.
But, whatever the temporary effects of climate change and extreme weather including some potentially frigid winters, the new video strongly hints at a melting Antarctica, at least in one region:
A melting Antarctic might not be all bad. The penguins are crying, but it might be easier to get at the region’s oil. What do you think about the disappearing Antarctic ice?
[Antarctica photo by Martha de Jong-Lantink via flickr]