08 December 2005

Melting ice and climate change

In the North Atlantic, the melting of the Arctic ice cap will result in a general cooling in Western Europe. The melting ice inhibits the ocean current - the Gulf Stream - which takes warm water into the area. The lighter, cold, fresh water from Greenland forces the warmer, heavier salt water to sink and cools the surrounding land.
In Eastern Australia global warming will bring climate change related to the melting of Antarctic ice. The melted ice will impact on the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. This current is responsible for the "redistribution of heat", the absorption of greenhouse gases and oxygen, as well as the renewal of the ocean including life-supporting oxygen.
Research is being carried out at CSIRO into the implications of climate change for those bordering on the Southern Ocean. An impact analogous to that happening at the North Pole can be expected as cold, light-weight fresh water replaces the surface salt-water being moved by the Antarctic currents.
"Understanding global circulation and the conditions under which surface waters sink into the deep ocean is critical for scientists estimating the timing and magnitude of climate change."

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