MIT NEWS OFFICE Southern Ocean Cooling in a Warming World Lauren Hinkel Friday, May 20, 2016

Around the world, scientists are observing evidence of climate change—record high temperatures, rising sea levels and melting ice sheets. But in contrast to these changes due to global warming, new research from MIT’s Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate indicates that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean may be experiencing a period of cooling before warming takes over. And the culprit might be the ozone hole rather than greenhouse gases.

“Our study tries to address one of the most mysterious problems of recent historical climate change in the region because, in contrast to the strong global warming trend, we’ve seen persistent cooling in the Southern Ocean and sea ice expansion,” said Yavor Kostov, PhD graduate and lead author on the study to be published in the journal Climate Dynamics. “And our study addresses some mechanisms that could be related to this persistent cooling trend.”

Kostov, along with MIT Oceanographer John Marshall and colleagues, used results from computer simulations with models called coupled general circulation models (CGM) **and observations to better understand how the ocean, atmosphere and ice interact together, which could lead sea surface temperatures to fall and sea-ice to expand round Antarctica.

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