AGU: Extraordinary storms caused massive Antarctic sea ice loss in 2016

Watts Up With That?

From the “well, if hadn’t been that it would have been global warming for sure” department:

By Lauren Lipuma, AGU

A series of unprecedented storms over the Southern Ocean likely caused the most dramatic decline in Antarctic sea ice seen to date, a new study finds.

Antarctic sea ice – frozen ocean water that rings the southernmost continent – has grown over the past few decades but declined sharply in late 2016. By March of 2017 – the end of the Southern Hemisphere’s summer – Antarctic sea ice had reached its lowest area since records began in 1978.

In a new study, scientists puzzled by the sudden ice loss matched satellite images of Antarctica with weather data from the second half of 2016 to figure out what caused so much of the ice to melt. They found that a series of remarkable storms during September, October and November brought warm…

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One thought on “AGU: Extraordinary storms caused massive Antarctic sea ice loss in 2016

  1. Greenwich Island (Drake Passage, near the Antarctic Peninsula), Prat-based sailors support the strongest wind in Antarctica in a decade: 380 km / h
    Saturday, June 24, 2017
    The Mercury
    With a visibility of only 10 meters, no one left the base in two days, while the penguins took refuge in some rockeries and the seals were protected under the snow. The flag, already torn by the wind, fluttered until the halyard was broken.
    “Although the base resists the winds, it was uncomfortable to be, because it was the same as if it were shaking.”
    As summarized by frigate captain Octavio Rodríguez, commander of the naval Antarctic base “Arturo Prat” of the Navy – via Skype to “El Mercurio” – the adverse weather conditions they faced the day before yesterday on Greenwich Island, just over 4,500 kilometers to the south from Santiago.
    A frontal system that moved from the west of the oceanic area and affected the Antarctic peninsula caused that the nine troops of the Navy destined in the base “Prat” lived the lowest temperature of the year until now (-18,7 ° C) And withstand the strongest gust of wind in the last decade, according to available records.
    It reached 205 knots (380 km / h) at 9 am on Thursday. Both conditions, temperature and strong wind, allowed to establish that the thermal sensation in the outside reached the -50 ° C.
    Commander Rodriguez says that the frontal system entered Wednesday and bad weather remained until early morning hours yesterday. Although they knew that bad weather was approaching, he admits that they never imagined that the wind would be so strong. On Monday and Tuesday the seals were prepared and reinforced in the windows of the old base and secured with wood the closures of the doors to the outside.
    While the frontal system was, the wind remained constant at 50 knots, but there were gusts that bordered the 200, registering a maximum of 205 knots. Almost 400 km / h.
    “With this extreme condition of winds and temperature so low you could not get out, and if a person did, it would not last standing and would not last many minutes, because it would start to freeze,” he says.
    Outside the visibility was reduced to only 10 meters, and the nearby fauna was protected from the wind: the penguins hid in the middle of rockeries and the seals were buried in snowy areas.
    The frontal system dropped about 15 centimeters of snow, but the strong wind took care of raising it, until dissipating it in the cove Iquique, that already is completely frozen.
    The flag, already with obvious damages, fluttered until the halyard was cut, and disappeared. The constant wind shortens the useful life of these to only two months in the base, and for that reason they maintain a stock of more than ten for the whole year. There is another pair reserved only for official ceremonies.
    “The base resisted well. Today (yesterday) we went out for a walk to see the installations, and we had no major inconveniences, the greatest care we had was for the towers of the antennas. One with nine steel cables.We were afraid that some would be cut, but we checked them, and they got through quite well, “he reports.
    Cape first Daniel de la Fuente, meteorologist at the base, explains that, unlike other Chilean bases, there are strong winds there because of the geography of Greenwich Island: “Here we have two hills that affect us with a katabatic wind, which It’s cold and it goes down the hillside and it hits us right where the bay is. ”
    However, the commander says that despite the bad weather, they maintained their normal activities, and even could see the party of Chile against Germany. This, he says, although “we have two satellite antennas, and when there is wind associated with snow, these are beginning to fill with snow, the television signal begins to fall and the telephony is intermittent.”

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