The South Pole is getting warmer — in fact, this remote location is experiencing warming up to three times faster than the rest of the planet. Researchers are nearly certain this disturbing trend is due to human activity.
Kyle Clem, a research fellow in climate science, explained the trend in an article for The Guardian. “My colleagues and I argue these warming trends are unlikely the result of natural climate variability alone,” he wrote. “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.”
Because the icy landmass covers 5.4 million square miles, there is a lot of temperature variability. Scientists have tracked temperatures since 1957 at the planet’s southernmost weather observatory, the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station. On the Antarctic plateau deep in the South Pole, the coldest region on Earth, average temperatures can dip to -60 degrees Celsius in winter and rise to -20 degrees Celsius in summer. Clem and his colleagues have focused on temperatures in the past 30 years. They concluded that between 1989 and 2018, the South Pole has warmed by 1.8 degrees Celsius. Since 2000, it’s been warming more rapidly.
Scientists already knew that the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica were getting warmer. In fact, Esperanza, Argentina’s research station on the Antarctic Peninsula’s northern tip, reached a new high of 18.2 degrees Celsius, or 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit, this February. But scientists are especially alarmed to learn of the temperature increase deep in the continent’s remote, mountainous interior.
Clem and his colleagues analyzed more than 200 climate model simulations to gauge human influence on climate change. “These climate models show recent increases in greenhouse gases have possibly contributed around 1℃ of the total 1.8℃ of warming at the south pole,” he wrote.
Stormy weather and low-pressure systems around the Antarctic Peninsula in the Weddell Sea partially account for the increased temperatures. But the combination of weather and greenhouse gases are likely the problem. “The observed warming exceeds 99.9% of all possible trends without human influence — and this means the recent warming is extremely unlikely under natural conditions, albeit not impossible,” Clem wrote.
Via The Guardian
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