Despite whatever you may hear, it’s obvious that we still don’t have a clear understanding of the impact we’re having on the planet we call home; there are studies that show we’re totally destroying it, and there are studies that we’re an ant on a mountain, so it’s really hard to say for sure how much damage we cause. We do cause damage, it’s just about the significance of the damage we are causing.
The Antarctic Peninsula provides very valuable clues regarding those aspects, as it’s a pretty good meter of what’s going on with worldwide climate, and despite the fact that a portion of it has been somewhat instable, most of it didn’t suffer from significate temperature changes. But recent studies confirmed what numerous scientists suspected to be true:
“Everyone knows it has been warming on the Antarctic Peninsula, where there are lots of weather stations collecting data,” said Eric Steig, a climate researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, and lead author of the study. “Our analysis told us that it is also warming in West Antarctica.”
Scientists came to this conclusion after analyzing results from historical temperature data from ground-based weather stations and also results from more recent times. They tried to gather as much data as possible to fill in the gaps, and they pretty much managed to do that; they used a statistical technique to fill in whatever gaps still remained.
The conclusions were pretty dire. The Antarctic temperature has increased by about 0.12 Celsius degrees per decade. The whole area is very vulnerable to climate shifts, especially the west side, and if the West Antarctic sheet temperature goes below freezing, the sea levels will rise with about 6 meters.
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!