Researchers who analysed 60 years’ worth of weather station data have found that the South Pole is warming faster than the rest of the planet.
According to their study, the researchers found the warmer ocean temperatures in the western Pacific have lowered atmospheric pressure over the sea in the southern Atlantic. This then increased the flow of warm air over the South Pole resulting in a 1.83C increase since 1989.
“While temperatures were known to be warming across West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula during the 20th century, the South Pole was cooling,” said Kyle Clem, a researcher at Victoria University of Wellington, and lead study author.
“It was suspected that this part of Antarctica… might be immune to/isolated from warming. We found this is not the case any more,” he told AFP.
The researchers attributed this change to Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). This IPO cycle lasts around 15-30 years and exists as a positive or negative cycle. Positive means the tropical Pacific is hotter and the northern Pacific is colder and the negative is the opposite.
The fact that the IPO has been in a negative state from the start of the century was identified as a driver for greater convection and more pressure extremes at high latitudes, leading to a strong flow of warmer air right over the South Pole.
“While the warming was just within the natural variability of climate models, it was highly likely human activity had contributed,” Clem said.