Antarctica Cooling Controversy - Scientific Sources and Interpretations

Scientific Sources and Interpretations

According to a NASA press release:

"Across most of the continent and the surrounding Southern Ocean, temperatures climbed... The temperature increases were greater and more widespread in West Antarctica than in East Antarctica, where some areas showed little change or even a cooling trend. This variability in temperature patterns across Antarctica complicates the work of scientists who are trying to understand the relative influence of natural cycles and human-caused climate change in Antarctica."

As a complement to NASA's findings, the British Antarctic Survey, which has undertaken the majority of Britain's scientific research in the area, has the following positions:

  • Ice makes polar climate sensitive by introducing a strong positive feedback loop.
  • Melting of continental Antarctic ice could contribute to global sea level rise.
  • Climate models predict more snowfall than ice melting during the next 50 years, but models are not good enough for them to be confident about the prediction.
  • Antarctica seems to be both warming around the edges and cooling at the center at the same time. Thus it is not possible to say whether it is warming or cooling overall.
  • There is no evidence for a decline in overall Antarctic sea ice extent.
  • The central and southern parts of the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula have warmed by nearly 3 °C. The cause is not known.
  • Changes have occurred in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica.

Research by Thompson and Solomon (2002) and by Shindell and Schmidt (2004) provide explanations for the observed cooling trend during the 1970s through 2000. An updated paper by Thompson et al. (2012) emphasized that this explanation only applies to austral summer; during the fall, winter and spring seasons, the mean trend is warming, and this is believed to be largely due to changes in atmospheric circulation related to warming trends in the tropical Pacific region.

Read more about this topic:  Antarctica Cooling Controversy

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