Climate Scenarios for the Southern Hemisphere: 2010 and 2050

Climatic Change

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 271-299

First online:

Antarctica and global change

  • W. F. BuddAffiliated withDepartment of Meteorology, University of Melbourne

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The Antarctic region of the globe is of special importance for a wide range of studies of global change. The IGBP research activities needing special focus for global change should be multidisciplinary, should involve both the geosphere and the biosphere, and should be of global as well as local interest. There are a number of important Antarctic research topics which fit these criteria.

A decrease of Antarctic sea ice has a positive feedback on global warming. Reduction in the sea ice also impacts on deep ocean circulation and can give a positive feedback to the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide by the reduction of a deep ocean sink. Changes in the mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet impact on global sea level. A unique historic record of past climate and global environmental changes is being obtained from deep core drilling in the Antarctic ice sheet. Decreases of stratospheric ozone are most pronounced over the Antarctic in spring. The impact of increases in ultraviolet radiation on the biosphere can be studied in the Antarctic as a precurser to possible changes developing elsewhere around the globe. Changes in the atmosphere and ocean circulations resulting from the decrease in Antarctic sea ice cover can have important effects on ocean surface temperatures which impact on the climates of the continents.

These topics are discussed briefly and a number of Antarctic research areas are highlighted which build on existing or planned international programmes and which can make critical contributions to multidisciplinary studies of global change.