Rising emissions and temperatures will threaten Antarctica’s chemical, physical, and biological systems.
PolarRES seeks to investigate the Ocean-Atmosphere-Ice (O-A-I) processes in the Antarctic region to understand how the Antarctic coupled climate system will evolve with global and local-scale climate change. While the principal concern relates to the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet and subsequent sea level rise, other scientific questions encompass the implications of physical and chemical disturbances in the surrounding Southern Ocean. For example, increasing emissions have led to a higher intake and accumulation of CO2, which has significant potential to disrupt marine ecosystems through ocean acidification. Moreover, potential changes to processes that link the climates of Antarctica, and the Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes further increase uncertainty in regional climate change projections.
We are currently exploring eight different storylines (four each in summer and winter) for the Southern Hemisphere, which are associated with future changes in upper atmospheric circulation and Antarctic sea ice loss. These two factors exert significant but largely unrelated controls over the regional response to climate change around Antarctica.
In addition to exploring both the atmospheric and terrestrial impacts of the storylines, we will also assess changes in ocean properties and their implications for the marine ecosystem around Antarctica, focusing on the important biodiverse South Scotia Sea region. The investigation into these storylines is ongoing and any chosen storylines will come here soon. The final storylines for the Southern Hemisphere will be selected based on evaluations of model performance in the recent past, together with the risks to the environment that can be found below.