Tag Archives: climate

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I keep seeing a map of Antarctica with an overlaid outline of the United States. I thought it would be helpful to have a picture of the continent compared with the size of Europe.

Antarctica and Europe
Antarctica compared with the size of Europe

This is a picture from a book I wrote half of and edited a long time ago.

It always struck me as strange that Antarctica being the "coldest and windiest place" is constantly recycled. The picture shows it is a huge place and it does not have one single climate.

On the Antarctic Peninsula it is relatively mild. It's even referred to sometimes as being the "banana belt". But away from the heat of the ocean, and high on the plateau it is without doubt cold almost beyond comprehension.

But one thing is for sure: there is no representative Antarctic climate.

 

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This post is quite long but stay with it. It shows how large some of the heat exchanges going on in the polar oceans can be.

The picture above shows an iceberg through mist rising from the sea.

It is pretty, but it is also showing is a vast heat flux of hundreds of watts per m2 from the ocean to the atmosphere...

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I have talked before on this blog about how the sea ice moves, and how the International Arctic Buoy Programme provide some lovely movies of the buoy tracks which show this.  I also pointed to Eric Larsen's video of the ice moving too.

But what does this ice movement mean for the climate?

As the ice moves it fractures, and the cracks extend over wide areas. These cracks are responsible for the "water sky" I talked about previously.

A recent MODIS satellite image from the Aqua satellite  posted at the NASA earth Observatory shows one of these cracks (we call them leads) opening up.

A lead in the Arctic Ocean
A modis image showing a lead and sea smoke in the Arctic Ocean May 2013. From the NASA EO

From the scale bar on the bottom left you can see that the open water is ~18 km wide, and the lead is more than 100 km long. More than enough to get a ship through!

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I was lucky enough on Tuesday night to get to go to a preview Screening of James Balog's film Chasing Ice at the wonderful Curzon Soho cinema

After it ended I was on the stage with the incredible polar photographer Nick Cobbing, the wonderful polar experienced and influenced artist Michèle Noach, and the Greenpeace Senior Climate Advisor Charlie Kronick. I know that is a bit effusive - but hey follow the links to Michèle and Nick and draw your own conclusions.

"Chasing Ice" discussion
From Left to right: Nick Cobbing Michèle Noach, Me and Charlie Kronick. Pic by Chris Brunner

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