Antarctic Troposphere Warming up 3x Faster than Global Average

March 31, 2006

A report from the British Arctic Survey (BAS) has noted that the troposphere – the lowest level of the atmosphere – over the Antarctic is heating up faster than the average warming over the rest of the planet.

A BAS press bulletin notes: “New analysis of weather balloon observations from the last 30 years reveals that the Antarctic has the same ‘global warming’ signature as that seen across the whole Earth, but is three times larger than that observed globally. Although the rapid surface warming in the Antarctic Peninsula region has been known for some time, this study has produced the first indications of broad-scale climate change across the whole Antarctic continent.”

The new finding poses an additional question for scientists studying global warming and the effects it has on the world’s weather. Lead author, Dr. John Turner of the British Antarctic Survey, stated: “The warming above the Antarctic could have implications for snowfall across the Antarctic and sea level rise. Current climate model simulations don’t reproduce the observed warming, pointing to weaknesses in their ability to represent the Antarctic climate system. Our next step is to try to improve the models.”

Turner’s conclusion, while applicable only to models being used to predict weather conditions in the Antarctic, at least raises the possibility that other models being used in climatic research may also be inadequate, and might lead to erroneous conclusions.

Other portions of the report in the U.S. journal Science stated: “We report an undocumented major warming of the Antarctic winter troposphere that is larger than any previously identified regional tropospheric warming on Earth. This result has come to light through an analysis of recently digitized and rigorously quality controlled Antarctic radiosonde observations. The data show that regional midtropospheric temperatures have increased at a statistically significant rate of 0.5° to 0.7°Celsius [.9 to 1.2 F°) per decade over the past 30 years. Analysis of the time series of radiosonde temperatures indicates that the data are temporally homogeneous. The available data do not allow us to unambiguously assign a cause to the tropospheric warming at this stage.”

For more information consult the BAS Website at: and the Science site at:

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