The changes that occur in Antarctica, with the breakage of its icy layers and its arrival in the oceans can cause a temperature drop, which would generate the conditions for a new ice age, said a study published in Nature.
After conducting computer simulations, the specialists suggested that the increase in ice in the sea would alter the circulation of the ocean, thus causing an investment in the greenhouse effect, since carbon dioxide levels would increase in the water and decrease in the air .
In that sense, Malte Jansen, a professor at the University of Chicago (USA) and one of the authors of the research, said it is key to determine why the Earth goes through periodic cycles of ice ages, in which glaciers they advance and cover the planet until they recede. For this to happen, the weather had to undergo major changes.RELATED
“We are pretty sure that the carbon balance between the atmosphere and the ocean must have changed, but we don’t know very well how or why,” Jansen explained.
The role of the oceans
To try to explain these changes, the researchers developed a model in which the atmosphere cools enough to generate Antarctic sea ice. In that sense, Jansen said that the Antarctic Ocean has a fundamental role in conditioning “the circulation of the oceans” and functioning as a ‘cover’ that prevents the exchange of carbon dioxide with the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, Alice Marzocchi, from the National Oceanographic Center of the United Kingdom and lead author of the study, explained that it is a loop that feeds back. “As the temperature drops, less carbon is released into the atmosphere, which triggers more cooling,” he said.
In addition, he defined the ocean as “the largest reservoir of carbon in geological time scales”, so “studying its role in the carbon cycle” allows “to simulate more accurately the future environmental change”.