Antarctica Warming Faster Than Expected, Threatening Global Sea Level Rise

September 9, 2023


A new scientific study reveals that Antarctica is warming at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the world, surpassing the predictions of climate change models. Researchers analyzed 78 Antarctic ice cores to reconstruct temperature data spanning 1,000 years. They found that the warming observed across the continent cannot be attributed to natural climate variability alone. The phenomenon, known as polar amplification, was previously observed in the Arctic, and this study provides “direct evidence” that it is also occurring in Antarctica.

What is polar amplification?

Polar amplification is a phenomenon where polar regions experience faster warming than the rest of the planet. The study provides evidence that this phenomenon is occurring in both the Arctic and Antarctica.

Why is West Antarctica considered particularly vulnerable to warming?

In West Antarctica, considered especially vulnerable to warming, the study identified a warming rate twice as high as climate models had projected. Its ice sheet, if collapsed, could contribute significantly to global sea level rise, potentially raising sea levels by several meters.

How does the study’s findings about Antarctica’s warming rate affect future sea level rise projections and the understanding of the continent’s climate?

The findings suggest that current climate models may underestimate the loss of ice in Antarctica, which could have implications for future sea level rise, ocean warming, and marine ecosystems.

What potential consequences are associated with a warming Antarctic?

A warming Antarctic could lead to further losses of sea ice, impacting ocean warming, global ocean circulation, and marine ecosystems. It could also result in the melting of coastal ice shelves that protect glaciers, potentially accelerating glacial retreat and contributing to sea level rise.

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