Tuesday 30 June 2020

Record warming at the South Pole during the past three decades

'No place isolated from warming' - South Pole heating up three times faster than rest of world, study finds

For the past 30 years, Antarctica's South Pole has warmed at more than three times the global rate, a new report has found.

30 June, 2020

One of the researchers involved, Victoria University's Dr Kyle Clem, says they used to think the Antarctic plateau was safe from the warming.

"But what we've seen is a rapid and extreme flip in temperatures, it's now the fastest warming place in Antarctica," he told Breakfast this morning.

"There's no place on Earth that's isolated from warming right now."

It's about more than just anthropogenic - human-driven - climate change, according to the research.

As well as rising temperatures driven by increases in greenhouse gases, the study found the warming was also driven by natural climate variability.

The warm ocean temperatures in the western tropical Pacific Ocean lowers atmospheric over the Weddell Sea, which drives warm air towards the South Pole.

Dr Clem says it's a combination of that and man-made climate change causing the huge surge.

"The findings in this study primarily suggest that climate variability in the interior Antarctic is extreme and it undergoes extreme and abrupt flips," he says.

"The biggest concern is that the South Pole and Antarctic plateau doesn't rise above freezing as of now, but if you track the patterns closer to the coast that's when you see melting.

"Over the full range of all possible 30-year trends in climate models without anthropogenic greenhouse gases, the observed warming lies in the upper 0.1 per cent, meaning it is extremely rare and that the recent warming was probably pushed to such an extreme level by anthropogenic forcing."

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