Antarctica is heating up fast, researcher, other scientists warn

No longer is David Braaten constantly cocooned in his red super parka. He left the insta-freeze winds of the Antarctic interior in January.

But as cold as the trip was for the University of Kansas scientist, he recognizes what one discovery after the next has demonstrated this year: It’s getting remarkably warm down there, and it’s heating up incredibly fast.

“We’re trying to find out what’s happening to the ice,” said Braaten, the deputy director of the KU-based Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets.

Even as the changing climate brings more moisture, and ice, to Antarctica’s center, on its edges the frozen continent is becoming less so. Melting skyscrapers of ice crash into the ocean at ever-faster rates.

That’s raising sea levels, disrupting ocean food chains and reducing the region’s ability to moderate the planet’s climate.

Climate scientists once were befuddled about why Antarctica seemed to be cooling while the rest of the world got toastier. It turns out the bottom of the world has been warming after all.

“More is happening than we thought, and it’s happening faster,” said Douglas Martinson of Columbia University, who studies the impact of polar oceans on global climate.

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