Antarctica Heating Up, "Ignored" Satellite Data Show

January 21, 2009

Temperatures are warming throughout Antarctica, especially in winter and spring, according to new weather station and satellite data.

The evidence contradicts studies showing that only the Antarctic Peninsula was warming while the rest of the continent has cooled.

The previous data has, in a least one case, fueled skepticism about global warming.

The new study also reveals that western Antarctica may actually be warming faster than the Antarctic Peninsula, "the biggest surprise" to study lead author Eric Steig, a climate researcher at the University of Washington.

"We can't say this with confidence, but our results at least hint that that may be the case."

Previous papers had already hinted at warming in eastern Antarctica, Steig said.

The Antarctic Peninsula, the farthest portion of the continent from the South Pole, has warmed faster than any other place in the world in the past 50 years—by some estimates as much as 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.5 degrees Celsius).

Such increases have caused dramatic ice shelf collapses.

(Related: "Antarctica Ice Loss Faster Than Ten Years Ago" [November 4, 2008].)

Steig also emphasized that the huge continent remains a complicated place, with both warming and cooling trends varying with geography and season.

Forest for the Trees

Steig and his team were conducting climate studies from ice cores in western Antarctica and needed up-to-date data for comparison.

Continued on Next Page >>


SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES

ADVERTISEMENT

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S PHOTO OF THE DAY

NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.