Latest Observations: Antarctica Warming Nearly Two Times Faster Than the Rest of the World

Nature Climate Change, 7 September 2023

The Arctic long has been characterized by warming two-four times the global average; now, ice core measurements provide the first conclusive evidence that Antarctica as a whole is also warming twice as fast. This “polar amplification” of increasing temperatures across Antarctica shows a current rate of warming 50% higher than predicted by climate models. Such observations raise concern that current projections may severely underestimate Antarctic warming, ice loss and resulting sea-level rise. Prior to this study, researchers were unable to gather enough weather data to evaluate long-term temperature trends across the ice sheet. Deep columns of ice withdrawn from Antarctica now provide an untapped archive of temperature-sensitive records that extend back hundreds to thousands of years. These ice cores suggest that unequivocal warming beyond natural variability began to emerge already in the 1950s, increasing through present date. Notably, the dramatic warming earlier observed in West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula now seems to be occurring at a similar pace in East Antarctica, which holds tens of meters of sea-level rise.

By Amy Imdieke, Global Outreach Director, and Pam Pearson, Director of ICCI.
Published Sep. 11, 2023      Updated Sep. 11, 2023 5:21 pm