Well, this isn’t good news.
Kyle Clem and other climate researchers found that temperatures are rising fast at the coldest place on earth, the South Pole, making them wonder if human-driven climate change was playing a bigger role than expected in Antarctica.
Records show that, through 2018, the region warmed three times faster than the rest of the globe, and that year was the hottest on record. In their study published in Nature Climate Change, they found that the South Pole is warming at a rate seven times higher than the overall average for the continent.
Clem, who has focused his research at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand on better understanding the Antarctic climate, said:
“The South Pole seemed to be isolated from what was going on across the rest of the world. But all of the sudden, it ramps up with rapid warming, some of the strongest warming on the planet.”
The researchers set out to find if the continental warming after a period of cooling during the 1970s and ’80s was natural variability or part of the wider trend of global warming caused by human industrial activity. They determined it was some of both.
The South Pole warming due to naturally rising temperatures in the tropical western Pacific, propelled southward by cyclones in the icy waters of the Weddell Sea, off the Antarctic peninsula, explained some of the warming trend. The rest they chalked up to human activity.
To be fair, Clem acknowledged that it’s difficult to determine exactly how much each factor played a part. With temperature records for the South Pole dating back only about 60 years, the region’s climate is little understood.