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UTSA researchers examine effects of global warming on Antarctic

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report citing the detrimental loss of sea ice sheets in the Arctic due to global warming echoes what many in the scientific community have been saying for years. Now researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio's Department of Earth and Environmental Science are turning their attention to the South Pole to find out if global warming is having similar effects in the frigid Antarctic region.

UTSA Earth and Environmental Science Assistant Professor Hongjie Xie and doctoral student Burcu Cicek are analyzing data collected in December following a two-week trip to the region. The pair were part of an international expedition that included scientists and educators from the United States, Chile and Sweden.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the 6,000 mile trip which was designed to allow scientists to collect data aboard the Swedish icebreaker Oden during transit from Punta Arenas, Chile to the United States' McMurdo Research Station on the Antarctic continent, south of New Zealand. The Oden was chartered by NSF to break through the ice and create a 25-mile long shipping channel that would allow for the delivery of annual supplies to NSF's McMurdo Research Station. On route to Antarctica, the ship passed through 1,700 miles of extensive sea ice cover that surrounds the continent annually.

"We now know what the sea ice really looks like as far as its thickness and concentration and now we can compare the data collected to what we see in satellite imagery," said Xie.

During the journey, Xie and Cicek made visual observations of the sea ice for their own research and also transmitted meteorological data regularly into the world weather observing network for a variety of factors including water and air temperatures, wind speed and direction, visibility, cloud cover and atmospheric pressure.

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Source:University of Texas at San Antonio


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