Polar regions communicate on climate change through fast atmospheric "text messages" and slower ocean "postcards"


A fast atmospheric channel and a slower ocean channel operate as a two-part climate connection between the North Atlantic Ocean and Antarctica, according to a new study published today in the United States. Nature. Together, these events caused rapid changes in climate during the last ice age – and could recur.

"The North Atlantic sends messages to Antarctica at two different time scales," said Christo Buizert, lead author and climate change expert, in a statement sent to IFLScience. "The atmospheric connection is like a text message that arrives right away, whereas the ocean connection is more like a postcard that takes its time to get there – in this case, 200 years, which gives the postal service a beautiful appearance in comparison. "

By applying this same theory, we could witness similar "abrupt" changes in our climate, which could be exacerbated by climate change.

The Atlantic Meridian Rollover Circulation (AMOC) is a system of ocean currents that acts as a treadmill to move water and air, thus creating weather systems and redistributing heat on our planet. Earlier this year, a team of researchers uncovered evidence suggesting that AMOC was weakening, which could alter the intensification of the monsoon, alter wind patterns, and reduce the ocean's ability to absorb carbon dioxide. of carbon.

Layer of volcanic ash in an Antarctic ice core. Volcanic markers such as these were used in the new study to synchronize ice cores of Antarctica. Heidi Roop / State University of Oregon

To study this "communication system", an international team of scientists examined samples of ice cores from five different locations in Antarctica, dating them by examining layers of volcanic ash and measuring the changes in Prehistoric temperature by analyzing the ratio isotopes of water. Compared to data from Greenland ice core samples, they found that abrupt weather events occurred on about 25 different occasions dating back 100,000 years ago.

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