Return of the ozone hole... but now as a global-warming shield

by Search Gate staff. Published Tue 01 Dec 2009 00:15, Last updated: 2009-11-30
Ozone hole helps shield Antarctica from global warming

The first comprehensive review of the state of Antarctica's climate and its relationship to the global climate system is to be released this week by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).

And the study reveals the “astonishing” finding that for years one man-made environmental impact – the ozone hole – has shielded most of Antarctica from another – global warming.

The review - Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment – presents the latest research from the icy continent, identifies areas for future scientific research, and addresses the urgent questions that policy makers have about Antarctic melting, sea-level rise and biodiversity.

Based on the latest evidence from 100 world-leading scientists from 13 countries, the review focuses on the impact and consequences of rapid warming of the Antarctic Peninsula and the Southern Ocean, as well as:

* Rapid ice loss in parts of Antarctica and the increase in sea ice around the continent
he impact of climate change on Antarctica's plants and animals; the unprecedented increase in carbon dioxide levels;

* The connections between human-induced global change and natural variability

* The extraordinary finding that the ozone hole has shielded most of Antarctica from global warming.

Dr Colin Summerhayes, Executive Director of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research said: "Antarctica is an unrivalled source of information about our planet.

“This review describes what we know now and illustrates how human activity is driving rapid climate change.

“By integrating this multidisciplinary evidence into a single source we will help scientists and policy makers understand the distinction between environmental changes linked to the Earth's natural cycles, and those that are human induced.

“The work is particularly important because it puts Antarctic climate change into context and reveals the impact on the rest of the planet."

Professor John Turner of British Antarctic Survey and lead editor of the review, added: "For me the most astonishing evidence is the way that one man-made environmental impact – the ozone hole – has shielded most of Antarctica from another – global warming.

“Understanding the complexities surrounding these issues is a challenge for scientists – and communicating these in a meaningful way to society and to policymakers is essential.

“There is no doubt that our world is changing and human activity is accelerating global change.

“This review is a major step forward in making sure that the latest and best evidence is available in one place. It sets the scene for future Antarctic Research and provides the knowledge that we all need to help us live with environmental change."




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