The South Pole is warming three times faster than the rest of the globe


Temperature trends are very different on the continent of Antarctica, but scientists have found that the South Pole is warming three times faster than the rest of the globe.

South Pole

While the overall picture of global warming shows a regular increase in overall temperatures, some parts of the Earth are warming faster than others, and the Arctic is a prime example. Scientists have now detected a similar accelerated trend happening on the opposite side of the globe: 30 years of weather data suggests that the South Pole has warmed more than three times the global rate since 1989.
South Pole
The study was conducted by an international team of scientists who studied weather station data, grid observations and climate models to assess the impact of global warming at the South Pole.

Temperatures can vary greatly on the Antarctic continent. Much of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, where sea ice loss has accelerated significantly in recent times, are known to have been on a warming trend since the late 20th century. You can read about it in the article: «Arctic temperatures hit a new record.» But the South Pole was considered more resistant to warming.

South Pole

This is because it is located in a remote high mountain region known as the Antarctic Plateau. This is one of the coldest places on Earth. While the surrounding areas warmed up during the late 20th century, the South Pole cooled until the 1980s. But a new study shows that changes have taken place here as well.

The South Pole warmed by a total of 1.8 degrees Celsius between 1989 and 2018, according to the group’s analysis, and has begun accelerating since the early 2000s. For comparison, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, combined land and ocean temperatures across the planet have increased by an average of 0.18 C per decade since 1981.

The researchers say that this is the result of various factors, although the exact contribution of each of them is difficult to determine. One factor in this trend is warmer temperatures in the tropical Pacific, which has lowered atmospheric pressure over parts of the Atlantic and in turn pushed warmer air to the plateau where the South Pole is located.

climate change

The team found that some of the warmest years at the South Pole were correlated with unusually high temperatures in the tropics, and nearly 20 percent of the temperature variation at the South Pole over the study period could be attributed to ocean temperatures in that region.

To understand the role that greenhouse gases and anthropogenic climate change have played in this trend, the team analyzed more than 200 climate models. They accounted for greenhouse gas concentrations over a 30-year period and compared the rate of warming to all possible warming trends that could occur naturally without human activity.

south pole - flags

The researchers say the observed warming exceeds 99.9 percent of all possible human-free scenarios. It is theoretically possible that it could have occurred naturally, but this is extremely unlikely. They concluded that rising levels of greenhouse gases have been working in conjunction with tropical heat to create one of the «strongest warming trends on the planet,» even greater than that seen in the Arctic, which is warming almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet. The study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.