Image courtesy of Ken Mankoff, EdGCM

From: Ken Mankoff
McMurdo Station, Antarctica, October 28, 2007

What if there were no Antarctica?

I'm in Antarctica right now, and wondering what this place might look like in a hundred or more years. What would Earth be like if there were no Antarctica? Human induced climate change has the potential to melt the ice sheets on Antarctica and Greenland. If this happens over the next few hundred years, it would have huge changes for life on Earth. I've used a climate model called EdGCM to simulate what the planet might be like if Antarctica were entirely removed from the planet. There are mountains under the ice that were also removed in this simulation, and we did not include sea level rise that would presumably happen if all the ice were melted. There was no global warming in this scenario. We took a 'regular' static world without CO2 increase and simulated what would happen if Antarctica disappeared. It turns out that not only would a hotter planet melt the ice, but a removal of the ice will create a hotter planet! We see a huge increase in air and ocean temperatures all over the planet by removing Antarctica. This implies there is a positive feedback loop in the system, and 'positive' is not a good thing in this situation. And a warmer world means much less ice too!

The moral of this postcard is to do what we can now to stop human induced climate change. If you would like to learn more about this simulation and see an in-depth write-up of the results, that will be appearing shortly on the EdGCM website.

Annual snow and ice cover without Antarctica

Postcards from the Field: ANDRILL

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