The South Pole has warmed faster than the rest of the planet in the last three decades due to warmer tropical ocean temperatures. A new report was published, and the results are concerning.
Antarctica’s temperature ranges widely according to region and season. For a long time, it had been believed that the South Pole had remained cool even as the continent heated up. Now, researchers found that the region has warmed three times faster than any other region. How can such a thing be possible? Here is what you should know.
The South Pole’s Fate Investigated
A team of researchers in Britain, New Zealand, and the US examined 60 years of weather station data and utilized computer modeling to find what was causing the South Pole’s fast warming. They discovered that warmer ocean temperatures in the western Pacific had, over the years, decreased atmospheric pressure over the Weddell Sea (southern Atlantic). Such a thing had increased in turn the flow of hot air straight over the South Pole – warming it by approximately 1.85 degrees Celsius since 1989.
The authors of the research stated that human-made greenhouse gas emissions probably increased the natural warming trend. “It was suspected that this part of Antarctica might be isolated from warming; this is not the case anymore,” said Kyle Clem, a researcher from the Victoria University of Wellington.
The data displayed that the South pole (a remote area on Earth) was now warming at a rate of approximately 0.6 degrees Celsius a decade, compared with almost 0.2 degrees Celsius for the rest of the planet. The IPO cycle (Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation) lasts around 15-30 years. It varies between a “positive” phase – the tropical Pacific is warmer and the northern, colder than average – and a “negative” stage where the temperature irregularity is reversed.
The IPO turned into a negative cycle at the beginning of the century, triggering huge convection and more pressure extremes at high latitudes. This resulted in a strong wave of warmer air over the South Pole. Clem explained that the 1.83 degrees Celsius level of warming surpassed 99.99 % of all modeled 30-year warming trends.