Global Warming

Scientists Link Southern Ocean’s Rapid Warming to Human Activity

In the past few decades, the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica has gotten less salty and has warmed at roughly twice the rate of global oceans overall.

Now, in a new study, scientists found convincing evidence that these trends are the result of two human influences: climate change from greenhouse gas emissions and the depletion of the ozone layer.

The research, published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, was authored by scientists from Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

Using climate models, data from the Argo global network of floating ocean sensors and past records, the researchers determined that Antarctica’s warming and freshening waters are directly linked to ozone depletion and greenhouse gas emissions, as opposed to natural variabilities.

This is the first time such a connection has been found specifically for the Southern Ocean, lead author Neil Swart of Environment and Climate Change Canada told Canada’s National Observer.

“While the influence of ozone depletion and greenhouse gas increases on the Southern Ocean have been suggested for some time, our research provides the evidence that links the observed changes to these mechanisms, and defines their relative importance,” Swart said.

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