Researchers have discovered that lower cloud coverage in the Antarctic can promote sea ice growth.
Unlike the rapid decline of Arctic sea ice in the warming climate, Antarctic sea ice witnessed a modest extension over the past four decades, according to the paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.
The researchers from China and the United States found that Antarctic sea ice had a strong rebound from 2011 to 2012.
“We quantified the effects on sea ice growth via a thermodynamic model based on reanalysis and satellite data and concluded that lower cloud coverage cooled the sea surface and accelerated the sea ice storage,” said Wang Yunhe, a researcher from the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“Clouds are like a down jacket for the Antarctic to preserve heat during winter,” said Bi Haibo, a researcher from the institute. “Fewer clouds mean more heat is lost from the ocean.”
Rapid temperature decline and thicker sea ice in the Antarctic during the winter in 2011 was mainly due to fewer clouds, he said.