NOAA-funded scientists found that warmer than normal ocean temperatures, rather than air temperatures, cause periods of rapid ice sheet calving known as Heinrich events.
For decades, Heinrich events have puzzled scientists because they occurred during the cold portions of millennial climate cycles, rather than during warmer climates as expected.
Using an ice sheet model, University of Michigan researchers reported in Nature that warm ocean water weakens the edges of ice sheets, causing ice to rapidly break off into the ocean. The warm water is associated with variations in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, part of the conveyor belt that carries warm and cold water around the globe.
These findings suggest that ice sheets touching warming oceans, such as the Greenland Ice Sheet and Antarctica, could be at risk of collapsing and raising sea levels more than most models currently predict.
This research was supported by the CPO Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program.
Access the paper: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v542/n7641/full/nature21069.html
Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2011, the United States experienced a record high number (14) of climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 670 lives, caused more than 6,000 injuries, and cost $55 billion in damages. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.
Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Department of Commerce
Climate Program Office
1315 East-West Hwy, Suite 1100 Silver Spring, MD 20910
Copyright 2018 by NOAA
NOAA Privacy Statement|
Web Accessibility Statement|
Disclaimer for External Links|
U.S. Department of Commerce|