Sea temperatures off the Antarctic Peninsula have cooled over the past 12,000 years, according to a study on Wednesday that may help scientists understand the impact of modern global warming on the frozen continent.
Scientists want to learn more about Antarctica because even a thaw of the fringes could raise sea levels and swamp low-lying coasts. The continent, discovered only in 1820, contains enough ice to raise world sea levels by 57 meters (187 ft).
“In Antarctic science we have been missing good records of sea surface temperatures near the ice sheet,” lead author Amelia Shevenell of University College London and the University of Washington, Seattle, told Reuters.
“We are starting to fill in the gaps,” she said of the study in the journal Nature.