Antarctica Warming 3X the Global Average

Image: Craig Knott/NSF

There’s been ample research to show that the Arctic is warming much faster than any other region on the planet. However, there’s been little media focus on what’s happening on the opposite side of the planet, until now. A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday has revealed that the South Pole has been warming at more than three times the global average over the past 30 years.

As study co-author Kyle Clem wrote,

My colleagues and I argue these warming trends are unlikely the result of natural climate variability alone. The effects of human-made climate change appear to have worked in tandem with the significant influence natural variability in the tropics has on Antarctica’s climate. Together they make the South Pole warming one of the strongest warming trends on Earth.

Why This Matters: Climate scientists long thought Antarctica’s interior may not be very sensitive to warming, but no major region of our planet is untouched by climate change. Antarctica’s ice sheet contains enough water to raise global sea levels by nearly 200 feet, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Thus accelerated warming in the region has serious implications for coastal communities around the world.

The Study: As CNN reported, Clem and his team analyzed weather station data at the South Pole, as well as climate models to examine the warming in the Antarctic interior.

  • They found that between 1989 and 2018, the South Pole had warmed by about 1.8 degrees Celsius over the past 30 years at a rate of +0.6 °C per decade — three times the global average.
  • The scientists said the main cause of the warming was increasing sea surface temperatures thousands of miles away in the tropics.

 

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