Image: Volodymyr Goinyk – Shutterstock.
Temperature trends vary widely in Antarctica, but scientists have found that the South Pole is warming at a rate three times faster than the rest of the planet.
While the overall picture of global warming shows a regular rise in overall temperatures, some parts of the Earth are warming faster than others, the Arctic being a prominent example.
Scientists have now discovered a similar accelerating trend taking place at the opposite end of the globe, with 30 years of meteorological data revealing that the South Pole has warmed at more than triple the global rate since 1989.
The research was carried out by an international team of scientists who examined data from weather stations, grid observations, and climate models to assess the impact of global warming at the South Pole.
Temperatures can vary greatly on the Antarctic continent. Most of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, where sea ice loss has recently started to accelerate, are known to have experienced a warming trend since the late 20th century, but the South Pole was thought to be different.
This is due to its location in the remote high-altitude region known as the Antarctic Plateau, one of the coldest places on Earth. While the surrounding areas warmed throughout the late 20th century, the South Pole actually cooled until the 1980s. But the new study shows change is in the air.
According to the team’s analysis, the South Pole warmed a total of 1.8 ° C between 1989 and 2018, and has started to accelerate since 2000. For comparison, the combined temperatures of land and ocean throughout the planet have risen at an average rate of 0.18 ° C per decade since 1981, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The researchers claim that this is the result of the combination of some factors, although the exact contribution of each is difficult to determine. However, one factor in this trend is rising ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which has lowered atmospheric pressure in parts of the Atlantic and in turn pushed warmer air toward the plateau where it is found. the South Pole.
The team found that several of the warmer years at the South Pole were correlated with unusually warm temperatures in the tropics, and nearly 20% of the temperature variations at the South Pole over the period studied could be related to ocean temperatures. in that region.
To understand the role gases greenhouse effect and climate change Source anthropogenic have played in this trend, the team analyzed more than 200 climate model simulations. These took into account greenhouse gas concentrations over 30 years, and allowed the team to compare the rate of warming with all possible warming trends that would have occurred naturally without human activity.
The researchers say that the actual warming observed exceeds 99.9% of all possible scenarios free of human influence, so while it may have occurred naturally, it is ” extremely unlikely. “
They conclude that rising greenhouse gas levels have worked in tandem with tropical variability to generate one of the “ most intense warming trends on the planet, ” even greater than that observed in the Arctic, which is warming almost 100%. twice the rate of the rest of the planet.
More information: www.nature.com – theconversation.com