SAN FRANCISCO – New climate-change findings mean the Pacific Ocean off California may rise higher, and storms and high tides hit harder, than previously thought, officials said. The state's Ocean Protection Council on Wednesday revised upward its predictions for how much water off California will rise as the climate warms. The forecast helps agencies in the nation's most populous state plan for climate change as rising water seeps toward low-lying airports, highways and communities, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area. Discoveries that ice sheets are melting increasingly fast in Antarctica, which holds nearly 90 percent of the world's ice, largely spurred the change. As fossil-fuel emissions warm the Earth's atmosphere, melting Antarctic ice is expected to raise the water off California's 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers) of coastline even more than for the world as a whole.
A keystone prey species in the Southern Ocean is retreating towards the Antarctic because of climate change. Krill are small, shrimp-like creatures that swarm in vast numbers and form a major part of the diets of whales, penguins, seabirds, seals and fish. Scientists say warming conditions in recent decades have led to the krill contracting poleward. If the shift is maintained, it will have negative ecosystem impacts, they warn. Already there is some evidence that macaroni penguins and fur seals may be finding it harder to get enough of the krill to support their populations.
The Antarctic is one part of the world you might have thought would be affected by global warming. But for the last two decades, the Antarctic peninsula – the tip of the continent nearest to South America - has not got any warmer, scientists have found. Research stations on the peninsula show that a while temperatures rose rapidly since the 1950s, the temperature has stayed steady and even declined since the late 1990s. The hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic has finally begun to'heal' after persisting for years. A new study has recorded an ozone increase in the icy region, suggesting the agreement signed nearly three decades ago to limit the use of substances responsible for ozone depletion, is having a positive effect.
Even as human-induced climate change and global warming has been shrinking the polar ice cap at the Arctic at an alarming rate, sea ice on the South Pole behaved to the contrary and expanded for much of the last three decades, a phenomenon that has baffled scientists and one that is often used by deniers of climate change as evidence in support of their arguments. And now, with two new studies published this week, understanding changes in Antarctic sea ice got even more complicated. One study, published Monday in the Cryosphere journal, looks through the logbooks of early Antarctic explorers from the "Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration (1897-1917)" and compared the recorded observations of Antarctic ice from the time with satellite images from today. Carried out by climate scientists from the University of Reading, United Kingdom, the study, titled "Estimating the extent of Antarctic summer sea ice during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration," analyzes "observations of the summer sea ice edge from the ship logbooks of explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton and their contemporaries during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration (1897–1917)." One of the first aerial photographs of the Antarctic, this picture was obtained from a balloon in 1901.