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Scientists are increasingly warning of the potential that a shutdown, or even significant slowdown, of the Atlantic conveyor belt could lead to abrupt climate change, a shift in Earth’s climate that can occur within as short a timeframe as a decade but persist for decades or centuries.
Sea ice extent at both poles has been breaking more and more records over recent years, but for radically different reasons. While the Arctic has been steadily losing ice cover, melting as the region rapidly warms, in stark contrast the Antarctic ice cover has remained stable, even growing in some years. Why this is occurring has proven difficult to explain, but now researchers from NASA think they may have cracked it.
The Western Antarctic sector of the Southern Ocean is the regular feeding ground of a large number of fin and humpback whales of the Southern Hemisphere. Around 5,000 fin whales likely migrate to its ice-free waters during summer, along with at least 3,000 humpback whales. This is according to a study that was led by Helena Herr of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover in Germany, and is published in Springer’s journal Polar Biology.